Finally, after long years of ICT related divergence Ministries, bodies, laws, policy and efforts in various directions, there is a move to work through one focal point which I think for once is very good.

Download the Draft here from the Ministry of Communications Technology Website

I read Gbenga Sesan’s view on this draft and i share some of his thots as do the following.

Firstly, Section 6 which mentioned naming the ministry “Ministry of Communications and Information Technology” and bringing other related ICT agencies under its purview should be embraced. While name doesn’t depicts the Ministry’s actions, there is a need to pursue this vision under the right naming convention cos everything ICT is not inside Communications Technology and even down the Draft, the term ICT was used through out stating the ministry of CT left as an important I missing from its name.

I see a lot of encourage, develop, formulate, initiate and nice words to formulate this policy, i just hope like Gbenga said that this “Will not be another one of those documents that government representatives will quote in defence of inaction, but a truly useful policy that will allow Nigeria build its ICT capacity? Creating a better space for ICT to grow will help Nigeria move away from our over-dependence on natural resources

Now to the 3 lines used to describe the involvement of youth in this future ICT movement, I think that section 4.9 is too generalized, there should be an itemized plan and engagement practice for the youths and this should be laid out now in the initial plan. The youth population in this country is enormous and they constitute over 70% of the PC, Internet, Software, Technology, in short this policy affects them more than anything. There should be the How-to engage the youths in clear terms.

I read R&D is minimal, I say its zero. While a lot has been said about R&D in the draft, i would like to see some emphasis especially on the transition of ICT development, Products and Services from Tertiary Institutions to the Industry, The initialization of Institutional based research (lots of them), execution of useful development projects and bringing life to the Research and Projects done in our Tertiary Institutions.

Telecommunications has grown no doubt but while NCC and the Ministry is focusing on teleDensity and reach, they should also focus on Quality because this is a key important part of this service. For driving competitions, establishing policies that allow MVNOs can actually increase Telecommunication Service Providers and provide some leverage to end users. Also, Mobile Number Portability should be encouraged to bring the Nations Telecommunications system into a common cloud.

Budgeting and Finance is a major catalyst for this policy and while the Policy indicates The Government, PPP, private colaboration, Foreign Investment as major sources. Putting a blind eye to corruption eating majority of the finance vote, I will wish for a more direct impact in using the funds meaning investing in the people, human capital, research systems and service infrastructure should be brought ahead of some multi-billion naira building or equipments that wont aid the initial growth of the intended ICT development.  “ICT in developed countries grew by investing in initiatives and ideas before the fancy big buildings and offices

One other thing i saw missing is the Money Switching Agencies for E-Payment, I know we classify them under Financial Institutions as such giving jurisdiction to CBN but you can’t take CyberCrime and Security from this area and close look should be paid to this. Seriously, Cybercrime as not started in Nigeria, Just wait till we go towards that cashless Nigeria.

And to the vision of the policy itself “Nigeria as a knowledged-base, globally competitive society“. There is no knowledge without Data and this draft as not really talked about developments in Data Management, Availability, Collaboration, Centralization, and Usage which is an important item in our knowledge based society quest. Gbenga called it “Open Data” and yes, we need the present data in Govt offices out there and let this Policy guide its usefulness and growth for usability.

In conclusion, This is a good start if the Government starts to put half of this things into action, If all they can start with is affordable infrastructure and an enabling environment, i dare say we will take it from there while they meet us later in front.

– Olutola Obembe