Director General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has said that Nigeria must build local capacity to solve problems to be relevant and successful in information technology (IT).
Pantami, who was speaking on day two of the ongoing 27th National Conference organised by Nigeria Computer Society at International Conference at University of Ibadan, in Oyo State, said: “If you want to be successful in IT you must build capacity locally. Use local innovations to solve local problems.”
According to him, this way the country could create a technology value change, a formidable tech ecosystem with many suppliers and consumers, with many innovators for national growth development.
“Nigeria loses a significant amount of foreign exchange annually from the importation of ICT goods and services. A large proportion of this is spent on software imports. We are working hard to reverse this trend and indigenous ICT businesses, including the many who are members of CPN, stand to benefit greatly from a local content policy that encourages the development of local ICT products and services’, adding, this must change.”
He explained that to this end the agency has trained over 740 persons in digital technology and deployed 86 digital learning centres across the federation.
NITDA embarks on Regulation, Capacity Building, Local Content Development, Digital Job Creation, E-Governance, Cyber Security, and Digital Inclusion as pillars of its 4-year Roadmap.
NITDA’s vision, he said, is to be Nigeria’s prime Agency and catalyst for transforming Nigeria into a knowledge-based and IT-driven economy. Strategic partnerships with leading institutions like NCS are necessary to ensure sustainable development in the sector.
“The process of developing an ICT sector as diverse and complex as ours is quite daunting. However, the potential benefits of developing such a critical sector would result in benefits that far outweigh the challenges.
“A well-developed ICT sector will significantly improve any economy. It will reduce capital flight, create jobs, generate revenue and help to position Africa as a producer of world-class ICT products and not just consumer of such products.”
Proper regulation makes development easier to achieve. As such, we renewed our emphasis on regulation and developed standards and guidelines for different aspects of the ICT sector. In addition to this, we have put the necessary machinery in place to ensure compliance.
As the clearinghouse for Information Technology Projects in Nigeria, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the government now come to us for the clearance of their ICT projects. We do this to ensure that there is no duplication, there is value for money and that the projects are sustainable, he explained.
Speaking further, Pantami said all the MDAs have been provided with a copy of the template and the IT clearance process will help in building standardised IT infrastructures as well as efficient IT systems and services.
It will reduce the cost of IT investments and will ensure commensurate value is derived from every IT investment. Eventually, these efforts will spur innovations and enhance MDAs responsiveness to their obligations.
Local Content Development and Promotion was chosen as one of the pillars of our Roadmap because we understand the importance of indigenous entrepreneurs to the growth of the sector.
We already have Local Content Guidelines and are actively enforcing them. We have issued guidelines for government websites and are currently supervising the repatriation of all government regulated and generated data.
We have had engagements with most of the MDAs as part of our effort to promote Government Digital Services. Some of our activities include the training of CEOs of these MDAs in emerging areas of ICT.
A workshop was recently organized for MDAs on the IT clearance process. As part of our efforts, we have also entered into partnerships with key parastatals like the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation.
NITDA says it is currently developing an Enterprise Architecture for the Nigerian government and have a draft Nigerian Interoperability Framework (NeGIF). We are reviewing the .gov.ng process and have significantly shortened the registration turnaround time from 2 weeks to 24hrs.
E-government is an enabler for productivity and efficiency in government and we know that an IT-enabled public service will provide better service for the citizens.
The need for effective capacity building efforts cannot be over emphasized. We have enabled thousands of our youth to improve their capacity in leading areas of ICT and have helped them to develop their entrepreneurial skills using ICT. We have supported the development of the start-up and innovation ecosystem through our subsidiary, the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship.