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Wednesday, 16 July 2014 08:46

Nigeria: Forum Tasks Nigerians in Diaspora On ICT Local Content Growth

By Adeyemi Adepetun

LAGOS, Nigeria, July 16, 2014 (The Guardian) --- To improve the profile of Nigeria's Information and Communications Technology (ICT) development, with focus on local content growth, the need for the full participation of Nigerians in Diaspora has been stressed.

This and other issues including creation of a National Centre of Excellence for Cyber Security to encourage technology transfer and commercialization were part of the discussions at a three- day forum, held in Detroit, the United States of America on the theme: 'Harnessing Diaspora and Local Linkages for Economic Growth'.

The delegates at the forum submitted that 'Nigeria should create her cyber security development priorities to underscore the need to establish partnerships with businesses, research and tertiary institutions.

In his presentation titled: 'Cyber Securities Challenges in Nigeria', Managing Director of U.S. based Unatek, Inc, Dr. Charles Iheagwara, a cyber security expert said "there is need to enhance Nigeria's Information Standards, Certification & Testing Capabilities; and align Nigeria's education programmes to meet demand for Cyber Security talent. It is desirable to develop workforce training programmes to address ICT industry needs' and also create a multi-faceted communications & marketing strategy to increase public awareness on Cyber Security and other critical ICT needs."

Iheagwara's, presentation made available to The Guardian also argued the need to identify future growth opportunities and implement an economic development strategy to ensure the sustained growth and future competitiveness of Nigeria Cyber Security industry as well as contiguous ICT sub-sectors.

The Cyber Security expert said there was a "need to market Nigeria as the national epicenter for Cyber Security within the ECOWAS sub region and even beyond. To achieve this requires not only innovations but different tiers of collaborations among all communities (government, military, intelligence, legal, law enforcement, industries, academia, and the general public), and high skill set in Diaspora."

Also at the Forum, the Director General and the CEO of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Peter Jack, said there was a need for more engagement of Nigerians in Diaspora particularly those with high IT skill vital to achieving some of the set targets for ICT Local Content Guidelines.

Jack, while speaking of plans to implement the Nigerian ICT local content Guidelines through a multistakeholder partnership that will involve the establishment of an implementation board to drive the local content process, said the agency would also involve Nigerians in Diaspora.

"We are creating the enabling environment to foster multi-stakeholder partnerships in developing local content and increase ICT's contribution to our GDP. Accordingly, Nigerians in Diaspora should be willing and ready to participate fully in the development of the action plan for implementation of the Local Content Guidelines," said Jack in Detroit to an audience that include public and private ICT operators; regulators; members of Nigerian Foreign Missions in United States of America and Canada; members of Nigerians in Diaspora (NIDO); Original Equipment Manufacturers; and ICT service providers.

The NITDA's boss said it was necessary to provide special incentives in terms of fiscal measures and other supports for Nigerians in Diaspora willing to come back and develop the ICT sector in Nigeria since many have the required critical skill set to advance the ICT landscape of Nigeria.

"As a whole, Diaspora groups frequently play critical roles in accelerating technology exchange and foreign direct investment in their home economies. India through its U.S.-based Diaspora has instigated significant investments back home from multinational companies in the information technology sector. This has enhanced the number of high- skilled jobs especially in India's software industry thereby strengthening the country's exports and helping to improve its overall economic growth", said Jack.

The NiDICT forum, which was designed as part of Nigeria's centenary celebration to boost developmental/ fraternal business relationships in the areas of ICT amongst Nigerians in Canada, USA and Nigeria, drew profound diplomatic support from Nigerian missions abroad.

Commenting, Nigeria's High Commissioner to Canada, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, represented by First Secretary, Mrs. Mary Ozonwanji, said the conference opens a new chapter in seeing how Nigerians of various skills within specialized ICT areas could collaborate to improve the country and further promote its image.

Maduekwe was joined by the Consulate General of Nigeria, New York, Habib Baba Habu who was represented by Head of Consular and Welfare, Udo-Inyang D. Inyang.

To the President, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation, USA, Dr. Akin Awofolaju, Nigerians in Diaspora occupy a strategic area of importance in building the overall value of Nigeria's economic development and not only in the ICT space.

Awofolaju noted that it will be counterproductive to leave out the Diaspora in advancing Nigeria's economy as the Diasporans represent a formidable pool of skill and experience which Nigeria can leverage on.

The NiDICT Forum was put together by Pinnacle International Consulting LLC and Knowhow Media International (KMI) publishers of IT Edge News with the support of the NITDA, the Mayoral Office of the City of Detroit, Galaxy Backbone Limited, the Nigerian Computer Society, and the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO).

Part of the submissions of the communiqué reads: all Nigerians within and outside Nigeria are critical stakeholders in the destiny of Nigeria and her ICT sector. Therefore, government agents such as the NITDA and Galaxy Backbone require the support of all stakeholders to fulfill their mandate; stakeholders in and out of the country should crave more understanding of the country's new ICT Local Content Policy and support the NITDA in the implementation of the ICT local content policy as a pathway to fostering development and engaging of ICT skill pool in the Diasporas to achieve the core objective of the policy; collaboration on ICT development that includes Nigerians in Diaspora, Nigerians at home and African-Americans is essential to real economic growth in Nigeria and the rest of Africa thus, the Conference welcomes the African Innovation Centre Initiative as proposed to be sited in the City of Detroit

Others are that there should be collaboration/partnership among stakeholders, which should be strengthened to adequately explore the development and potentials of the ICT sector in Nigeria. In this wise, a trade/technical delegation to Nigeria by a pool of ICT experts and potential investors; government should create special incentives in terms of Fiscal measures and other supports for Nigerians in Diaspora willing to come back and develop the ICT sector in Nigeria; there is an urgent need to provide information and statistical data on the ICT industry in Nigeria as well as manpower within the country and in Diaspora so as to accurately aggregate our worth as a nation, proffer effective planning policy and make proper use of them. (*This story was originally Published by The Guardian)



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