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Stakeholders chart roadmap for ICT-driven robust economy

Stories Olabisi Olaleye
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No doubt, the future is already here because Nigeria and every country in the world are leveraging on technology to solve issues ranging from crime, migration and service access. With this in mind, the Federal Ministry of Communications recently organized a two -day maiden communications sector retreat at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan to raise the standard and charts way forward. Although, the event has come and gone, but the aftermath of it will be imprinted on the sands of time.
The forum was tagged: ‘Continuing Innovation while innovating continuity: Creating a smart digital Nigeria’.
In his opening remarks, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communications, Mr Sonny Echono noted that the communications sector plays a strategic and pivotal role in the growth of many other sectors through its value added services and as an overall enabler of socio economic development as attested to by the World Bank and the World Economic Forum more than 10 years ago.
“This forum became a crucial interaction that is representing a new vista in the collective drive to evolve a workable synergy that would seek to reposition Nigeria’s communications sector as one of the key drivers of the nation’s economy”.
On his part, the Chief host, the Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, while declaring the event open posited that the forum was well timed especially as the country is no longer buoyant with dwindling oil revenue .
“There is need to have a shift in revenue and job creation policies. I have every belief that the ICT sector is capable of generating revenue and also arrest the menace of unemployment in the county. I implore all stakeholders to work together to ensure that the country benefits fully in the opportunities that are abound in the ICT sector of the nation’s economy”.
Although, the Governor had jokingly passed a comment earlier on the need for Nigerians to change where time is concerned and be conscious of time factor at any event.
The Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu, in his welcome address said that Nigeria has a lot to learn from Rwanda, in terms of ICT architecture despite its small size.
He disclosed that Rwanda has become a smart country and has deployed digital solution to intercept crime. Stressing that there is a need for the country to adopt a two layer smart approach and that the ministry has identified five steps to achieve digitally smart Nigeria via: building on ICT sector growth by improving infrastructure and quality of service, smart government to deliver ICT and broadband penetration , increasing revenue and reducing waste while fostering transparency and accountability using ICT, Policy on innovative continuity for private sector led continuous innovation and growth and migration to a digitally smart Nigeria through capacity building , job and wealth and creating an enabling environment for entrepreneurship to flourish.
Shittu harped that smart means Social -reinventing social interaction, mobile-to ensure government mobility using latest technology, Analytic -building a knowledge driven government , Radical openness-our government will be open by default and Trust- our government will engender trust , by deploying ICT to effectively secure cities,critical national infrastructure, telco infrastructure and other investments, our government will be
Available and we shall protect our partners policy.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Garba Umar Danbatta stated that the commission is working tirelessly to improve on the mandate given to it by the government, while also listing some of the challenges being faced in the course of doing this and how these challenges could be overcome.
He however stated that the next frontier for communications in Nigeria is Broadband and that in the years to come, telecoms contribution to the country’s GDP would experience significant increase as a result of broadband availability.
Meanwhile, Acting Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr Vincent Olatunji said the agency had identified ICT sources of job/revenue generation opportunities for government as evidence in e-Agriculture, e-health, deployment of Public Key Infrastructure and software testing among others. Adding that NITDA is strategically positioned to accelerate its inclusive development programmes for positive socio-economic development and that the agency’s ambition is to make Nigeria become the number one centre for ICT diffusion in Africa.
Other stakeholders at the events include Chairman of Zinox Technologies, Mr Leo Stan Ekeh, Group managing Director of Omatek, Mrs. Florence Seriki, Managing Director, Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited (NigComSat), Ms Abimbola Alale, Senator Abiodun Olujimi, Chairman, Senate Committee on ICT, Mr. Fatia Buhari and the Rwandan Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Kamanzi Stanislas.
Others are the Managing Director of Galaxy Backbone Limited, Mr Yusuf Kazaure; Sir Demola Aladekomo, former managing Director of Chams plc, Chief Exexcutive Officer of MainOne Cable, Ms Funke Opeke.

Firm develops App for parents to shop for schools

A new application known as School Compass has now been developed by a Lagos-based IT firm to help Nigerian parents shop for choice schools for their children from a wide range of options.
The school marketing platform according to Mr. Yomi Ojo, MD, Mytcodes Limited now parades over 250 schools including primary and secondary schools from about 10 states across Nigeria.
“We saw a gap for this peculiar challenge that is being faced by most parents across Nigeria and we decided to address it with schoolcompass.com.ng. What we have done is to provide parents with choices without stress in line with our vision that says; we guide, you decide,” Ojo explained.
In less than a year, School Compass which was launched in May, 2014 has built a database of about 50,000 parents and now records about 1,000 active users daily. Ojo added that the platform is among the top ranked portals in Nigeria.
A demo of the application reveals unique features of each of the schools listed on the platform. These include school curriculum, extra-curricular activities, facilities available, external exam performances (WAEC and NECO) and contact details among others. The information provides is complemented with corresponding images and relevant charts.
To underscore the marketing opportunities available for school proprietors, Famakinwa Babajide, Business Consultant, School Compass said all schools listed on the platform are created and run by the schools owners for free.
“Our role is that of advisory to all stakeholders on the platform and we do not wield any control over what any of the schools post. I can tell you that the feedback that we have been getting so from school owners and parents is very amazing,” he explained.
Commending the initiative, Otuya Ekecha, Lead Business consultant of Fibresol Nigeria Limited, Abuja who are collaborating on the project expressed confidence in the project as a veritable venture in helping Nigeria meet her Millennium Development Goal (MDG) goals. Otuya noted that the initiative has the capacity to cater for Nigeria’s 97.1 million internet users.