By Emma Okonji
The Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) has called on the federal government to refocus its priorities and begin to look at capacity building in the area of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), especially in software development.
President of ISPON, Dr. Yele Okeremi, who made the call at a tech capacity development forum organised by Girl Code Academy in Lagos, expressed concern that the federal government was not doing the basic things required to enhance national development. He was of the view that the federal government must begin to develop local ICT capacities for national development, if she must achieve her dream of becoming a smart city where activities are automated and driven by technology.
According to him, government should be able to support between five to ten technology hubs and start-ups and provide them with the opportunities to grow and compete globally. This would bring about national development and wealth creation for our county Nigeria. The idea of government borrowing money from other developed countries of the world to build national infrastructure may stop because Nigeria can become financially stable if it has up to ten powerful Nigerian technology start-ups that are doing well and creating wealth for Nigeria, he said.
“We therefore need leaders that have the vision to build capacity for national development,” he added.
“Government should resuscitate hubs that are financial weak and about to go down, including those hubs that have already gone into extinction like Ideas Hub, among others,” Okeremi said.
Citing successful hubs in developed countries of the world, Okeremi said those successful hubs belong to the private sector with support from government, while encouraging Nigerian government to do same instead of setting up government hubs or government ICT Parks.
He emphasised that those meant to run technology hubs are those with core technology skills and competence among private entrepreneurs.
Commenting on the smart nation initiative, Okeremi said they have do with lean government and large enterprise.
“Every successful nation in the world have the policy and vision of a smart nation, but in Nigeria the story is different, where we have large government and weak private enterprise, yet Nigeria is yawning for a smart nation that is driven by technology.
“What we see about government in Nigeria is not encouraging because government does not support the growth of private enterprise that is supposed the drive national development.
“For Nigeria to have a smart nation of her dream, government must give full support to the private sector in terms of growth and development,” Okeremi said.
According to him, “The wealth of a nation is not resident in the natural resources of that nation, but in the knowledge skills, especially Information and Communications Technology (ICT) skills that have been developed among citizens of that nation.”
Governments globally have shifted focus from oil to ICT and Nigerian government must do same because ICT skills drive global economies today.
In the past, the biggest companies of the world were in oil and gas industry but today, that have changed and the biggest companies in the world are now in the ICT space, Okeremi said and he stressed the need for Nigerian government to use technology in driving every aspect of human endeavour, and make Nigeria a truly smart nation.