Academics, practitioners want Nigeria’s tech ecosystem rejigged
The current state of Nigeria’s technology ecosystem may not position the country better among the comity of nations, except some drastic measures are taken.
This formed part of the submissions of academics and information and technology practitioners, who rued the state of things as far as the ecosystem is concerned, and urgently stressed the need to rejig the entire landscape.
According to them, the Federal Government should put square pegs in square holes, as far as the administration of the sector is concerned.
Gathered at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) organised, Emerging Technologies Research and ICT Innovation Forum, with the theme: Developing Nigeria’s Tech Eco-System, Imperative For Improving Local Content, at the University of Lagos, Akoka, they called for more funding and infrastructure development.
According to them, Nigeria needed new skills, capacity building, and local content recognition.
Leading the discourse, Chief Executive Officer, MainOne Cables, Funke Opeke, said government policies should directly impact the ecosystem through the creation of favourable terms, infrastructural development and the provision of incentives for high-growth firms.
Opeke said that government should enable a conducive business environment for business zones and innovation hubs with a friendly tax regime.
She called on government to develop and enforce effective policies for the country’s tech ecosystem to compete.
From his perpective, an Associate Professor, Department of Mass Communications, Unilag, Dr. Oluwanifesi Suraj, said the current ICT curriculums in the schools must change. He stressed that current curriculum cannot meet up with the changing times
“The way we teach has to change, Simulation has to be brought into the class. There is a need for re-skilling and up-skilling of the lecturers. We must utilise industry experts to teach courses in the universities and our classrooms have to be an innovation hub.”
There were recommendations made at the forum, as compiled by the coordinators of the sessions, Prof. Shola Aderounmu of the Department of Computer Science, OAU; Director-General, Delta State Innovation Hub, Dr. Chris Uwaje, and Prof. Francis Idachaba, Professor Communication Engineering, Department of Electrical and Information Engineering, College of Engineering, Covenant University Ota, Ogun State. These include policy framework for determining computational basic literacy and minimum competency benchmarks for employment in the ICT industry; establishment of a national digital development strategy think tank; facilitate IPv6 national migration plan for service providers; establish office of Chief Information Officer for Nigeria.
The forum also tapped the Federal Government through the NCC to facilitate a national digital research; promote two-year industry practice and two-year academics for students in technology based courses; connect fibre across the country; establish an e-government academy to retool leadership and policy makers; declaration of a National ICT Day, as nationwide awareness for technology innovation development. Government is also to facilitate special ICT intervention to enhance ability in the disability domain; need to facilitate and encourage professional specializations in the ICT-digital ecosystem; establishment of a national strategy on software capacity building for Nigerian youths, and creation of a National Directory Database for Innovation hubs.
A representative of the Computer Professionals (Registration Council of Nigeria) (CPN), Abibat Olatunji, said NCC should undertake survey for the available skills and the problems in the ICT industry.
Olatunji urged NCC to find out how govt and privates can consume the products produced in some of the country’s innovation hubs, stressing that to improve local content, transfer of knowledge from the multinationals to the locals would impact positively.
According to Amos Emmanuel of Programos Software, NCC should promote a national Digital policy think-tank made up of the academia and the innovation counsel and there should be meeting regularly. He urged NCC to promote innovation frameworks across the nation.
The CEO of Akure tech hub, Abraham Akpan, asked NCC to set up sustainable systems by collaborating with other agencies with their roles and MoU clearing defined. He added that the commission should check regulation that limits the reach of startups in reaching consumers directly. According to him, supports should not be limited to hubs Abuja and Lagos alone.
Akinbo Adebola of NiRA said government must focus investment in infrastructure in the rural areas. He urged the federal government to market and sell Nigerian products to other countries especially in Africa.