Former Executive Vice-Chairman NCC, Engr. Ernest Ndukwe
By Muhammad Bello
The immediate past Executive Vice-Chairman of National Communications Commission (NCC), Engr. Ernest Ndukwe and Chairman of Zenith Bank, Mr. Jim Ovia will co-chair a 14-man presidential committee on five-year broadband penetration project.
Other members of the committee, who are drawn from state governments and the private sector, has three months to complete its assignment.
The president also directed the Ministry of Education to include Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the National Education Curricular beginning from primary school level so as to avail young Nigerians at that level of education early exposure to the global information highway.
The president gave the directives at the inauguration ceremony of the high profile committee in State House Abuja, observing 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.
He explained that the inauguration of the presidential committee is a historical landmark in his administration’s attempt to propel its transformation agenda and the country into a 21st century economy.
He enumerated the significance of broadband as an avenue to create new industries, education delivery, health care provision, energy management, public safety, government/citizen interaction and the overall organisation and dissemination of knowledge.
He noted that broadband access and internet technologies were key enabler of socio-economic growth and the attainment of a fully knowledgeable based economy.
The President pledged that his administration will give necessary support and encouragement to ICT practitioners in the country to empower collective effort in attaining the goal of the 21st century economy.
“We must therefore start exposing our children to ICTs to encourage in them familiarity with new technologies and the desire to develop software programmes and applications,” he said.
According to him: “It is important to start thinking of how to build a digital economy particularly in this era of the knowledge economy. The critical factor here is that we are in the middle of a digital revolution that has seen ICT transform the global economy.
“ICTs have changed the way we live, work and learn. In some countries around the world, including Nigeria, ICTs have even transformed the way citizens participate in governance,” he observed.
“To achieve this lofty goal, it becomes imperative that a proper and feasible plan is articulated. Hence, government has constituted this committee to develop a comprehensive broadband roadmap for the country,” he explained.
The terms of reference of the committee include: articulation of acceptable definitions and perspectives of broadband and related issues that are current and dynamic for 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.
Other terms 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.
Addressing State House correspondents after the committee’s inauguration, the Minister of Information Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, who was joined by the co-chairmen of the presidential committee, assured that government would create the enabling environment to attract investment in ICT sector in the country.