By Olubunmi Adeniyi
Lagos. December 17, 2012: Ernest Ndukwe, co-Chair of the Presidential Committee on a National Broadband Strategy and Roadmap says the group will deliver an overall blueprint to ensure that Nigeria takes advantage of high-speed Internet services for economic development, “within shortest possible time.”
Goodluck Jonathan, the President of Nigeria, recently set up the group to develop a Nigerian Broadband Implementation Plan with membership drawn from industry and government.
Ndukwe, who is also an ex-Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says that when the work of the broadband team is completed, it will deliver a broad-based plan for the Nigerian government to take advantage of the dividends of broadband, “within the shortest possible time.”
He spoke recently at the software forum organised by the Institute of Software Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON) where he also urged attendees to refocus the benefits of cloud computing.
According to him, cloud computing offers enormous opportunities for developing economies to access computing resources and services located “elsewhere” while this new paradigm driven by the Internet, “takes away the myth from computing, programming or software development.”
However, the co-Chair of the Presidential Broadband Committee says that access to broadband connections is critical to tap these new opportunities while also underscoring those policies in the sector must be dynamic in order to grow the Nigerian ICT sector.
According to Ndukwe, “broadband infrastructure is an area that we should work on making sure it happens within the shortest possible time.”
In September, while inaugurating the 14-man broadband committee in Abuja, Jonathan told the team to use ICT to give Nigeria the headway need to play a key role in the technology revolution.
The President charged the members of the Committee to work assiduously to “perform this task creditably and expeditiously, while stressing that it is a fact that Broadband access and internet technologies are a key enabler of socioeconomic growth.
He emphasises that it is important to start thinking of how to build a digital economy in this era of the knowledge economy. He disclosed that the National ICT policy has set a target of a five-fold increase in broadband penetration by 2017.
He notes that his administration inaugurated the committee to develop a comprehensive broadband roadmap for the country to achieve this goal.
Emphasizing the important role of broadband in economic development, the President mandated the Ministry of Education to incorporate ICTs in the nation’s education curriculum beginning from the primary school level to raise global ICT leaders of tomorrow.
Jonathan, who gave this directive at the inauguration ceremony of the committee, observes that this was necessary to eradicate the current trend of late education in ICT which is as a result of the disadvantage of not getting proper education when they should.
“My administration is laying a proper foundation for a prosperous future. Therefore, the Ministry of Education must incorporate ICTs in our National Education Curricular beginning from the Primary School Level because, if we desire to raise the global ICT leaders of tomorrow, we should not burden them with the disadvantage of starting out late. Celebrated innovators of today, like Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and Mark Zukerberg, founder of Facebook, discovered their love for software development between the ages of 9 and 12,” he says.
He pledges that his administration will continue to give the necessary support and encouragement to ICT practitioners in Nigeria to empower collective effort in attaining the goal of the 21st century economy.
Taking note of the president’s statement during the inauguration of the committee, Jonathan expresses his administration’s commitment in investing in the deployment and adoption of information of Information and Communications Technologies as a driver of National Transformation.
He adds that, “broadband has the potential to facilitate the creation of new industries and introduce significant efficiencies into existing ones. Education delivery, health care provision, energy management, public safety, government/citizen interaction, and the overall organisation and dissemination of knowledge will also benefit meaningfully from the presence of Broadband.”
The President who commended the Minister of Communication Technology, Omobola Johnson for steering the new Ministry efficiently, disclosed that the Ministry of Communication Technology was separated from the Information ministry to enable Nigeria leverage ICTs for national transformation.
Ndukwe and Jim Ovia Chairman of Visafone Communications Limited were selected to co-chair the 14-man presidential committee on five-year broadband penetration project.
Others on the committee are: Juliet Ehimuan Chiazor, country manager, Google Global Service Nigeria, Lynda Saint Nwafor, CTO MTN, Philip Chuwueke, Chair, CDMA Forum, Rasheed Adegoke, CIO, First Bank, Stanley Jegede, CEO, Phase 3 Telecom, Gbenga Sesan, Youth ICT Entrepreneur, Bala Mohammed, Commissioner for Science and Technology, Kano State, Kayode Jegede, Special Adviser to Ekiti State Governor on Infrastructure and ICT, John Ayodele, Ministry of Communication Technology, Vincent Olatunji, National Information Technology Development Agency and Junaid Dikko.
The terms of reference of the committee include: articulation of acceptable definitions and perspectives on broadband and related issues that are current and dynamic in the country, evaluation and analysis of the current position of broadband infrastructure and service delivery in the country.
It is also expected to define broadband service in the country and articulate an agenda for bridging the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” within the country and showcasing possible challenges.
Others are expansion and detailing of additional strategic and tactical approaches for reinventing the country as a broadband rich digital haven capable of supporting electronic and mobile architecture for commerce and trade, empowerment among others; and thereby capable of attracting internal and external investments for development.
The committee will also consider and articulate the role of different levels of government; federal, state and local government in ensuring the timely achievement of the roadmap, consider and articulate other related and reasonably connected relevant plans and agenda that are incidental to broadband development in the country and produce a comprehensive National Broadband Road Map for Nigeria.