Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) wednesday approved a new information communication technology (ICT) package, tagged ICT Roadmap 2017 to 2020 with the intention of creating 2.5 million jobs and a specialised ICT University by 2020.
Briefing journalists at the end of the weekly FEC meeting in the State House, the Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, described the new ICT roadmap as a framework for the development of ICT in Nigeria which he said would involve the creation of a specialised environment for ICT activities and development.
He also said the package would enable the dynamic Nigerian youths to maximally harness their ICT skills, pointing out that when fully implemented, young Nigerian graduates would not need to travel to India, South Korea and other technologically advanced countries to acquire ICT skills.
Shittu, who described the ICT roadmap as a component of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP 2017 to 2020) recently launched by the federal government, said when implemented, the package would increase Nigeriaâ€™s gross domestic product (GDP) growth to 20 per cent by 2020.
He also said the roadmap would foster the development of adequate manpower for the exploitation of the ICT industry and consequently enhance effective service delivery through its e-government and e-commerce components.
The minister also said the ICT roadmap would enhance broadband penetration in all parts of the country to the tune of 30 per cent and not only guarantee job creation but also ensure the digitisation of Nigeria.
â€œWell, we thank God that at last the ICT roadmap 2017 to 2020 has been approved for implementation by the government. This roadmap essentially, is a framework for development of ICT in Nigeria generally. It is also one of the pillars of Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and the aim among others, is to ensure the creation through ICT of 2.5 million jobs between now and 2020.
â€œAgain, another aim is to ensure broadband penetration to all parts of Nigeria particularly to ensure that by 2020, we have penetration level of about 30 per cent. Again, we believe that the content of this ICT roadmap will assist in harnessing the innate skills and opportunities available. We know that our youths are very intelligent, dynamic and they will utilise the implementation of the ICT roadmap to ensure that more jobs are created and to really get Nigeria digitalised.
â€œAgain, we believe that this policy, when properly implemented, will contribute to growing the Nigerian economy such that even with the government revenue, it could increase the GDP to about 20 per cent by 2020. As of this year, the contribution of ICT to Nigeria GDP is a little above 10 per cent.
â€œFinally, we want to believe that ICT will also assist in making businesses and service delivery easy because of e-government components of it and because of the e-commerce components of the ICT roadmap. I think one of the main issues is that invariably, we will have an ICT University which will be a specialised university to try to provide opportunities at the local level for intelligent, brilliant and innovative youths to learn more.
â€œAs of today, with due respect to our universities, the general opportunities are not really there. If you consider the fact that ICT is growing at exponential level, if you consider the fact that ICT is also a destructive technology, where if you have a syllabus today, by tomorrow that syllabus is changing; if you have another one tomorrow by the next day, it is changing, because there are many people involved in innovations all across.
â€œAs at today, many of our graduates are ill-equipped for the ICT industry even in Nigeria not to talk of exporting their services to other African countries. What a lot of our people do after graduating from the universities is to go to India to equip themselves better to get all the skills that they will require for this new technology sector,â€ he said.
â€œSo, we feel that instead of our people going to India, South Korea and all of that, letâ€™s create a specialised environment in Nigeria where people can train both Nigerians and people from overseas. In doing that, we will have enough manpower to take care of the ICT industry which of course is multi-faceted within Nigeria and also be available for jobs all over the world,â€ Shittu said.
In his briefing, Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, said the council also approved a memorandum for the ratification of copyrights treaty, a world treaty otherwise known as Beijing treaty to which Nigeria is a signatory.
He said the treaty was meant to provide copyrights protection for persons involved in all manners of creations such as music productions and audio visuals. The AGF said Nigeria, being a signatory to the treaty and international convention, was duty bound to ensure that Nigerian artistes enjoy the benefits of such treaties.
â€œSo, as a signatory to those international conventions, we have a responsibility to ensure that they take the benefits and enjoy the advantages of the treaties by way of Nigeria being a signatory to those treaties and conventions.
â€œSo, the presentation of a memo was made to the council seeking the approval of the council for the ratification of the treaties. Arising from that, the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice had been mandated and instructed to draft the necessary instrument for transmission to the world body in terms of ratification of world treaties associated with intellectual property of copyrights. So, the council has been given the approval and the ratification of the treaties has been granted by the council,â€ Malami said.
In the same vein, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, briefed journalists on the approval of a memorandum presented by his ministry to the council on the co-ordination and placement of medical doctors who are house officers. He said the approval would avert the plights of young medical doctors.
â€œAt todayâ€™s meeting, council considered a memorandum from the Federal Ministry of Health to centrally co-ordinate, place and fund the placement of house officers in accredited institutions across the country. By this singular act, the sufferings of thousands of Nigerian young doctors will be put to an end. This new programme will be centrally coordinated by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria with effect from 2018,â€ he submitted.