States, LGs demand NITDA projects

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Unknown to many, the National Information Technology Development Agency ( NITDA) has made remarkable strides in driving its mandate and pushing the frontiers of information technology development in Nigeria in the past ten years.

NITDA which was set up in 2001 with a 2007 Act which gave it legal teeth to function more effectively has carried out several development initiatives and a number of its ICT projects scattered around the 36 states since inception. Some of these projects are currently attracting the attention of states and local government areas who are asking for more, according to sources.

Though the NITDA enabling act was not passed into law until April 2007, considerable progress was made in implementing the Nigerian IT policy.

For instance before the establishment of NITDA there was low level of awareness and development of IT coupled with lack of adequate infrastructures and requisite institutional framework to enhance the development of the sector.

According to available information NITDA at inception adopted a three-pronged approach of human capital development, infrastructural development and institutional capacity building to drive its goals and objectives.

The approach is said to have culminated in various initiatives which include massive awareness creation, workshops and conferences. Some of the initiatives of the agency include the NEPAD’s e-school initiative, mobile Internet unit, Nigerian Cybercrime Working Group, Galaxy Backbone Plc, the CANi project that has driven uptake and spread of computers in Nigeria.

Other projects which the NITDA initiatives has given birth to include the Catch Them Young Policy, Nigerian Internet Registration Association ( NIRA), the Rural Information Technology Centres ( RITC) spread across Nigeria, IT scholarship award, Cisco Regional Networking Academy, e-Government and Governance, IT Parks, Virtual Library and Development of the Nigerian ICT4D plan among others.

The agency has also embark on the Ccmputerization of Unity Schools as a fall out of the implementation of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) process and the recommendation of the inter-ministerial committee set-up by the Federal Executive Council on the need for computer education in Nigeria. Six schools have so far been computerized as pilots.

The Project is aimed at setting up Computer Labs in all the Federal Government Colleges which will serve as models for other schools.

The NITDA projects are geared towards achieving an Information Rich Society where Nigeria will be rated among the first 20 leading economies of the world by year 2020.

Through the initiatives, the level of awareness on the inherent benefits of IT has improved while investment in the sector and Internet penetration statistics has increased hitting over 45 million at the last count. This has made Nigeria the fastest growing in sub Saharan Africa.

NITDA has shown a forward looking commitment to the ideals and goals of the IT policy and the agency is currently at the stage of developing appropriate guidelines and standards for IT product and services as well as the campaign for the patronage of ‘Made in Nigeria’ products and services.

By Emma Elebeke

 

In : Technology