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Computer professionals decry Nigeria’s slow match to digital inclusion

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Prof. Sola Aderounmu


Computer Professionals in the country are worried about the slow pace of development around digital inclusion. This, they claimed has relegated Nigeria among the comity of nations.Under the aegis Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), these professionals, though claimed that the country has leaped a bit, “but we are still far from where we should be as country.”
  
The President, NCS, Prof. Adesola Aderounmu, addressing newsmen in Lagos, on Tuesday, said much work still needed to be done to get Nigeria to its rightful place. Aderounmu, who used the occasion to announce NCS 27th National Conference scheduled for the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, Oyo State from July 17 to 19, with the theme: ‘Digital Inclusion: Opportunities, Challenges and Strategies,’ said the strategic and transformation role of IT in the economy and society is well recognised.
 
According to him, in the fast paced digital era, there was a need for strategic actions and innovative practices to ensure the nation is competitive, engaged and prosperous.The NCS President noted that the opportunities technology creates for employment generation, efficient and accountable governance, wealth creation and social development cannot be underestimated.
 
He cautioned that “as we invest in technology, we must not widen existing divides in society. The sustainability of our efforts requires inclusion. The excluded, the vulnerable, the rural populace all need to be part of the digital revolution for Nigeria to fulfill its immense potential. For example, can we really have e-government if the majority of citizens lack access to digital infrastructure and fall short in terms of required digital skills?”
  
On what would actually drive Nigeria’s digital inclusion, Aderounmu said having ubiquitous broadband and at affordable cost was critical to feeling inclusion across the country.He however, lamented that not that the country was not blessed with both human and material resources, but that utilising the resources efficiently, has been a challenge. “For instance, companies including MainOne have brought submarine into the country with huge bandwidth capacity, but we have not been able to put it to efficient use. It is only the urban areas that are enjoying the benefit for now, these resources must move to hinterland. The task of moving the bandwidth capacities to other part of the country has been stalled by high Right of Way challenges. This must be address significantly.”
 
Citing example of South Korea, where citizens enjoy fibre to home, Aderounmu said, by now, “we should have fibre to home in Nigeria, not only in the urban, but rural areas as well. That is when we can say we have started inclusion.”NCS Chairman, Events and Conferences, Jide Awe, said the inclusion gap in the country was still very wide and getting wider daily due to the challenge posed by inadequate infrastructure, which has limited economic growth.
   
According to Awe, “we must fast track our development if the country must compete at the very top. The country is blessed; all we need is good management. At the conference, we shall be discussing some of these challenges and proffer ways of getting out of the wood.”

He urged the Federal Government to look into fundamental areas that it could invest in to achieve the target goal of inclusion. The NCS official said that when all Nigerians both in urban and rural areas were included in digital literacy, it would go a long way in developing the country.To the Chairman, Education and Manpower Committee, Rogba Adeoye, part of driving inclusion would be to develop human capacity.

  
According to him, the country must develop adequately its human resources and put them to judicial use if digital inclusion must be even.Furthermore, the NCS President disclosed that the conference is usually the largest yearly gathering of leading IT professionals and stakeholders with national and international participation, stressing that attendee benefits include unique opportunities for self development, networking, collaboration, recognition and advocacy.
  
On getting the conference recommendations across to the authorities, Aderounmu reminded that NCS has been an advocate group, saying they will make the recommendations available to government and other relevant authorities, “It is left for them to adopt it.”  
  
Aderounmu also stressed the need for skills developments in the country, stressing that “it wasn’t that the jobs are not there, but the skills to match have been the challenge. But technology can actually deliver us from these challenges if adequately explored.”   


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Adesola AderounmuNCS
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