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ARCIS Postgraduate Students Task Govt On ICT

Dr. Olatokun delivering his speech at ARCIS yearly meeting

Dr. Olatokun delivering his speech at ARCIS yearly meeting<br />

Nigeria is capable of becoming the ICT hub of Africa if the prospects of the ICT sector in the country are harnessed. Supporting the sector through specialised Federal Government institutions will positively impact on the country’s socio-economic development. This was the view of the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Engr. Peter Jack at the silver jubilee anniversary lecture of the Africa Regional Centre for Information Science, University of Ibadan.

The event, which was part of activities to mark the silver jubilee celebrations of the centre has “Emerging Dimensions and Issues in Nigeria’s ICT Space: Progress, Challenges and Prospects,” as theme.

Engr. Jack, who was represented by Rev. Sunday Afolayan, noted that information technology has become a strong catalytic for sustainable economic growth across nations, creating jobs and wealth as well as spurring development that will improve the socio-economic status of nations.

According to him, Nigeria is beginning to witness some growth in the areas of ICT innovation and entrepreneurship wherein few ICT entrepreneurs have evolved within the ecosystem to pioneer new innovative solutions. By these activities, the e-commerce ecosystem in the country has grown from below US$300m in 2012 to US$500m in 2014 with over 15,000 jobs created.

He also observed that a number of MDAs have improved their service delivery and efficiency with the help of ICT. He gave such projects as the online registration and application of national identity card/number, Government Electronic Payment System, Online Flood Early Warning System among others.

According to him, despite the few instances of successes recorded, the Nigerian ICT sector is faced with challenges such as capital flight of over US$360m transferred out in purchase and maintenance of foreign software; high tariff and poor incentive to encourage operators.

Jack said Nigeria could tap into the vast opportunities of the sector by assisting Nigerian ICT start-ups and technology companies towards building a vibrant and dynamic innovation-driven ecosystem. He noted that Nigeria has a fast growing and large consuming class, which represents a huge opportunity for businesses and if harnessed could provide job for many young people.

Earlier in his speech, the acting director of the centre, Dr. Wole Olatokun, an associate professor, said Africa Regional Centre for Information Science (ARCIS) was founded to become one of the key nodal points for information sciences training, research, networking, content creation and advisory services in Africa, and in the context of the evolving African information society.

He noted that the centre has been able to train and re-train manpower needed for the information industry not just for Nigeria, but other African countries, adding that within 25 years of ARCIS existence, close to 2,000 students have got their Master’s while 12 have graduated with PhDs.

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