Tuesday, November 6, 2018

How FG Is Regulating The Information Technology Sector


Information Technology (IT) is the key driver in the development of almost all sectors in any economy. It spells the efficiency and effectiveness of the future of any organization. It is predicted to be the fastest growing sector through 2024. This means that IT jobs are most highly demanded and most important to an organisation’s success.

For a country like Nigeria, IT infrastructure has remained the bane of development and a leading cause of poor quality of service. From basic computing devices and networks to broadband penetration and last mile fibre optic connectivity, this infrastructural deficit is preventing several Nigerians from gaining affordable and reliable digital access. This lack of access further inhibits further investment in IT infrastructure.

However, the Federal Government has shown its determination to tackle the infrastructural challenge through its campaign to provide necessary infrastructure and build capacity of youths to help them be self-employed and thus generate wealth for the economy.

At a media interaction in Abuja on the eNigeria conference with the theme ‘Promoting digital economy in an era of disruptive technologies through effective regulations’ convened by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the director-general of the agency, Dr Isa Pantami told journalists that the federal government had shown strong commitment to the development and regulation of the IT sector through the agency, saying government had taken various strategic steps to develop IT in the country.

He listed some efforts made to engage youths, build their capacity and create employment, saying the agency had established 166 ICT centres in the country from 2016 to date; develop ICT policies for 14 states across the country; establish fully functional virtual libraries and e-libraries at the twelve locations; establish 166 e-learning centres since 2016 with 16 universities benefitting from the WAN project;

The NITDA boss also said plans were underway to establish additional eight IT hubs to reduce unemployment in the country, adding the project was already nearing completion.

Saying the establishment of the IT hubs started in 2006, he pointed out that the hubs in Lagos, Calabar, Katsina, Oyo, Gombe states were already operational, while other states were still in progress.

The agency, according to him, will establish IT hubs in every state of the country and upgrade already existing ones to meet with the trends in ICT.

The NITDA boss said through the IT clearance policy of the agency, the government had saved N13 billion over two years and had ensured the alignment of IT projects in MDAs.

He equally said the agency’s digital inclusion programme had created 86 digital capacity building centres, 80 digital job creation centres, eight virtual libraries with e- learning facilities in some tertiary institutions of the country.

The agency, over the past two years, had focused on seven pillars, which were IT regulation, cyber security, digital capacity building, government digital services, local content development, digital job creations and digital inclusion, he further said.

He pointed out that creating digital jobs which is leveraging on Information Communication Technology (ICT) is part of the economic diversification strategy of government.

On ensuring cyber security, Pantami said the agency was piloting awareness programmes in the country to sensitise citizens on the dynamics and dangers of cyber attacks.

He said the novel achievement of the agency was bringing sanity in the award of IT projects among ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government.

“In the past, MDAs used to carry out projects in silos, while some see IT projects as a means of siphoning money.

“Over the past two years, we have made sure that MDAs don’t repeat projects in their budgets because we are placing value on monies spent on IT projects,” he said.

According to him, NITDA has received 79 prestigious awards for being the best IT regulator both locally and internationally.

He commended the media for supporting the agency over the years and called on them to investigate MDAs for not complying with IT projects’ regulation and clearance  mandate of the agency..

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