NITDA plans new strategies to boost ICT growth in Nigeria

WITH the global communities employing Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to fast track their development and digitialised their economies, the National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA) is set to upscale its capacity building efforts through training and research of government agencies and departments as it continues the broad objectives towards boosting Nigeria’s ICT capabilities and skills in the year 2015.

   Part of NITDA’s core mandate is developing ICTs in Nigeria, and this the Agency has been implementing through training Nigerians across all strata and investing in researches to increase the country’s knowledge base in ICT innovations, especially in the area of software development.

    Speaking in Abuja, NITDA’s DG, Peter Jack, while giving hints of the Agency’s focus for 2015 stated that the NITDA Act mandates it to proactively assist Nigerian governments, agencies and companies to improve their processes and product quality, adding that this has been its focus through its initiatives of trainings and re-training programmes, which many Nigerians have benefitted from. And in order to increase the tempo and fast track the nation’s development with technology, he said the agency will this year raise the bar with its ICT training programmes.

   NITDA’s training focus, Jack said, can also be seen in the establishment of technology incubation programs, rural ICT programmes, ICT clusters and other IT development networks, which are been used to stimulate the growth of the sector.

   The NITDA DG in broadening the scope and focus the Agency is undertaking in 2015, explained that in the E-Government Survey 2014, tagged: ‘E-Government for the Future We Want’, the United Nations noted: “E-government and innovation can provide significant opportunities to transform public administration into an instrument of sustainable development. E-government is ‘the use of ICT and its application by the government for the provision of information and public services to the people.’ More broadly, e-government can be referred to as the use and application of information technologies in public administration to streamline and integrate workflows and processes, to effectively manage data and information, enhance public service delivery, as well as expand communication channels for engagement and empowerment of people.

   “The opportunities offered by the digital development of recent years, whether through online services, big data, social media, mobile apps, or cloud computing, are expanding the way we look at e-government. While e-government still includes electronic interactions of three types—i.e. government-to-government (G2G); government-to-business (G2B); and government-to-consumer (G2C)—a more holistic and multi-stakeholder approach is taking shape.”

   Taking further cue from the UN report, Jack noted further that the survey stated that: “Through innovation and e-government, public administrations around the world can be more efficient, provide better services and respond to demands for transparency and accountability. E-government can help governments go green and promote effective natural resource management, as well as stimulate economic growth and promote social inclusion, particularly of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.

   “ICTs have also proven to be effective platforms to facilitate knowledge sharing, skills development, transfer of innovative e-government solutions and capacity-building for sustainable development among countries. E-government can generate important benefits in the form of new

employment, better health and education.”

     Consequently therefore, he said NITDA is taking the issue of capacity building in government circles seriously and frontally, in order for Nigeria to not only key into the UN agenda; but also as a major direction of President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformation agenda initiative.

    Aside training, he said the agency would also establish research fund to sponsor academic research projects being conducted by Nigerian scholars and educational institutions across the world which focus on developing the IT sector in the country. Jack added that while providing all the necessary incentives to encourage the use of information technology in all spheres of life in Nigeria, NITDA has been the key driver of e-government in the country as it continues to show commitment to the set objective of developing e-Government at every level. The consistency of NITDA towards ensuring that government and its agencies adopt a transparent and open way of doing business is believed to have saved government huge amount of money.

Through a policy of education, encouragement, training and deployment of appropriate technical know-how, NITDA has moved away from the era of policy initiation to implementation. Today, e-Government is catching on in the operations of government and how it interfaces with the people through various tools like travel documents, voting arrangements, national identification, drivers’ license, etc.

   Among other roles, NITDA is saddled with the responsibilities of developing guidelines for electronic governance and monitor the use of electronic data interchange and other forms of electronic communication transactions as an alternative to paper-based methods in government, commerce, education, the private and public sectors, labour, and other fields. The agency also creates the frameworks for the planning, research, development, standardization, application, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of Information Technology practices, activities and systems in Nigeria.

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