The federal government has been urged to involve information technology (IT) professionals in its digital economy drive in order to achieve the desired results.
President, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Prof. Adesina Sodiya, said the federal government would achieve faster and better results when indigenous IT professionals are involved.
He frowned upon the situation where the federal government still rely on foreign IT professionals to execute sensitive government projects, thereby putting citizens’ sensitive data at risk while encouraging capital flight in the process.
Sodiya, together with the Executive Secretary of NCS, Mr. Iyiola Ayoola, spoke in Lagos recently, during the monthly interactive session with the media.
According to Sodiya, “NCS has experts in all areas of Information Technology.
We have professionals with global competitive skills that we need as a nation to drive our IT projects, especially the drive towards achieving digital economy by digitizing all government processes. What we believe is that the government needs to look inward, support indigenous IT professionals by providing enabling environment, and supporting indigenous experts to deliver the right solutions when needed.”
He gave instances how a member of NCS, developed and launched home-grown solution called Konn3ct, designed for online meetings and conferences that could favourably compete with the likes Zoom, Microsoft Team, and Webex.
He said such NCS member needed government support and the enabling business environment to perfect the solution and develop more for the country.
“The target we have set for ourselves at NCS is that nobody will be using foreign related meeting apps before the end of the year, especially when Konn3ct is available. There are other organisations coming up with a lot of solutions. FinTrak has a lot of products for the financial sector. They are competing at the global level, receiving recognitions. So, in the area of software, there is no software that Nigerians cannot develop as a nation.
“We have the talents and skills, but patronage and government support are the biggest issues we face. I am aware of a bank in Nigeria that spends about $200 million on foreign software annually. You can imagine if we have that money injected into Nigeria’s economy, we will be able to create more jobs for our growing youth population,” Sodiya said.
He added that with the development of the financial technology (fintech) startups, the banks are beginning to understand they can’t continue to look outside.
Sodiya blamed the federal government for the slow adoption of digital transformation, as most Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) of government still want to retain the old system of communication. He however promised that NCS would continue to educate and engage them in series of discussions.
Ayoola, also stressed the need for the federal government to domesticate broadband policies, through the domestication of the office of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) across the states and local government areas of the country, in order to ease decision making and deployment of government services.
“The federal government will need to make that sacrifice of domesticating broadband policies if government is really serious about developing rural and unserved communities,” Ayoola said.
For some time now NCS has been calling on the federal government and state governors to domesticate the office of NITDA across different sates, including other government agencies like Galaxy Backbone. If that is achieved, development will happen faster, especially in the area of infrastructure deployment. The idea of government operating from a single office of NITDA in Abuja, will slow development across the country, Ayoola further said.
He explained that it would be difficult to stay in Abuja and make policies that affect rural areas when it comes to infrastructural deployment.
Although Ayoola commended the current initiative of NITDA to build ICT hubs in each of the six geopolitical zones of the country, he however said Nigeria could build more ICT hubs if NITDA’s office is replicated in all the states and local government areas.
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