By Olubunmi Adeniyi
Lagos. November 11, 2012:Five indigenous PC makers, Zinox Technologies, Omatek Computers, Brian Technologies, Beta Computers and Veda Computers, have been selected to power the Students PC Ownership Programme unveiled Thursday by government to put computers in the hands of Nigerian students.
The programme is also seen as a major potential driver of growth in the local PC assembly industry expected to receive a boost from the government’s programme of local content development in the ICT industry.
Hitherto, indigenous PC makers have made inroad into securing government contracts but have largely recorded relatively lower shelf preference by local consumers against their bigger rivals like HP, Dell, Acer, among others.
The new scheme is also a big booster for the five selected Nigerian PC makers including Zinox, makers of the Zinox range of computer products; Omatek Computers, which makes the Omatek range; Brian, which makes Brian Computers; Beta Computers, makers of the Speestar brand and Veda, makers of Veda Computers.
Microsoft and Skye Bank are also partnering to implement the scheme developed out of collaborative efforts among PC assemblers, universities, banks, global technology companies and telecoms operators.
Omobola Johnson, Minister of Communication Technology, launched the Students PC Ownership Programme saying that the government-backed programme was being pursued to promote utilization of ICTs in all sphere of life as well as the education sector that has been accorded priority by her Ministry.
The second strategy is to promote the sustainable development of the ICT industry where government makes a transition from a contracting entity to a facilitator of industry growth through programmes promoted by the Ministry and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the nation’s IT Policy implementer.
Under the plan, government says it is challenging the local PC makers to boost their productive capacities to catalyse into job creation, poverty reduction and increase their globally-competitiveness.
The Communication Technology Minister flagged off the Students PC Ownership Programme scheme on Thursday with the theme “Promoting Increased Access and Utilization of ICTs in Education” at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja in conjunction with NITDA.
She decried the low PC penetration in Nigeria said to rank as the lowest in Africa while noting that affordability and availability of devices and the slow pace of ICT adoption for teaching and learning in secondary and tertiary institutions were partly responsible.
According to her, a whole new world of knowledge and learning is now to be found on the Internet. Hence, effort should be made to ensure that young Nigerian students have unfettered access to this world so they can participate meaningfully in the knowledge society.
This world, she says, is connected to electronic libraries providing access to world-class research materials and networking.
Cleopas Angaye, Director-General, NITDA, says the student personal computer ownership scheme evolved from the dire need to increase PC penetration among the students of higher learning especially in Nigerian universities.
According to him, the scheme was also meant to challenge the licensed OEMs and participating companies to boost their productive capacities which would eventually have a multiplier effect in terms of job creation, poverty reduction and increased global competitiveness.
Angaye adds that government has adopted some unique strategy for the student PC ownership scheme to ensure its sustainability through continued and increased access; partnership with tertiary institutions and adoption of self-funding mechanism.
NITDA solicits the collaboration and partnership with any of the stakeholders to ensure the sustenance of the scheme.
A dedicated portal that has been created for the scheme and to ease access to participation information was demonstrated at the event to show students how they can access the website, www.cosportal.com.ng.
Based on the implementation plan, 12 pilot universities were selected from the six geopolitical zones while two students from the University of Jos, Dorcas Danladi and Victor Dapam were the first beneficiaries.
The launch attracted several stakeholders in the ICT industry as well as Committee of Vice-Chancellors, Committee of Chancellors and Femi Bamiro, the immediate past Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan.
Attendees agreed that the scheme was a laudable one and needed to be sustained and extended to lecturers while commending the CommTech Minister for her steadfastness.
They called for synergy among the stakeholders in ICTs industry, education and research institutes.
Other attendees at the event include Ibrahim Baba, Postmaster-General, NIPOST; Eugene Juwah, Executive Vice-Chairman, NCC; Managing Director, Ahmed Rufai NigComSat, and representatives of Ministries of Education, Youths Development, NUC and students from the University of Jos.