FG Urged to Establish State ICT Regulatory Agencies

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Emma Okonji

The federal government has been advised to as a matter of urgency, establish state information and communications technology (ICT) regulatory agencies in all the 36 states of the federation, including the federal capital territory (FCT).

The National President of the Association of Telecommunications Professionals of Nigeria (ATPN), a plethora of ICT Think Thank experts, Mr. John Williams Adede, who gave the advice recently, told THISDAY that the need to establish state ICT regulatory agencies, became necessary, in order to address the shortfall of ICT infrastructure across states, since ICT has become an integral part of everyday life for many people in the world.

Adede also called on the federal government to extend it to local government areas, by setting up ICT units in all the 774 local government areas of the country, to enable Nigerians at the grassroots level to benefit from ICT infrastructure, which he said, is fast driving economies.

According to him, “It is important to establish ICT agencies with good infrastructure by states government across the nation as that will help the progress of their development goals in the plan to drive ICT policy from the federal level to state level and local government, since we already have the National ICT policy, which the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), is implementing in the country.”
I therefore urge the federal government to assist the 36 states governors including the FCT to establish an agency that will coordinate and manage the ICT activities in the states and local government areas, so as to enhance sector growth in the country, Adede said.

“ICT has huge potentials in providing quality of service in areas such as education, health, commerce and public administration. The creation of such agencies is vital in protecting the interest of stakeholders such as consumers, service providers and the government who are increasingly embracing services like e-learning, tele-medicine, tele-health, e-services and e-commerce, among others,” Adede said.

The lack of a state ICT coordinating agency constitutes one of the biggest challenges in developing the sector in the country, and this could have adverse effect on the country’s planned migration from analogue broadcasting to digital broadcasting by June 2017.

The formation of ICT agency at the state level is therefore necessary to guide the government in the transitional stage of creating a database through which the proposed agency would perform its monitoring role, he added.
Adede, however, commended the Federal Ministry of Communications, and its Minister, Adebayo Shittu, for re-constituting the National Council of Communications Technology and Head of ICT in all federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). He also thanked the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for envisaging the exploration of ICT potentials among the youths.

We must understand that professionally, it is imperative for all the state governments of the federation to infuse ICT into their processes if we as a nation, must attain the auspicious vision 20:2020 in the next three years, Adede said, while urging all state governors to also introduce the study of ICT at the primary school level throughout the nation with ICT facilities that will give the pupils a technological knowledge about ICT education.

If done, it is expected to bridge the digital divide across the country no matter the locality, and we will not stop asking for government’s intervention until ICT for all is fully achieved as a potent measure to accelerate the ICT drive of the federal government policy, which will stimulate the innovation and stir-up the digital awareness initiative, Adede told THISDAY.

He called on the federal government to jettison the idea of transferring three major ICT agencies from the Federal Ministry of Communications to the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.
He said the idea by the federal government to move NITDA, Galaxy Backbone and Nigeria Communication Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) to the Ministry of Science and Technology, was unnecessary, and called for the re-visit of the federal government’s recommendations on Oronsaye committee’s report on restructuring, rationalization and mergers of NCC, NBC, NITDA, NIMC and other federal government parastatals.