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ICT: The state of the nation

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TECHTHE “Digital Heavy Wind” is at the door! As we wind down the rest nanoseconds of 2015, there is need to reflect on how the IT sector has performed over the years. First, it is instructive to state and emphasize that the current Nigeria development Model may not yield appropriate meaningful fruit and indeed may not be productive or sustainable without the conscious domestication of Information Technology Software at the centre of its leadership and development. The Information and Communications Technology Development Index (IDI) 2015 where Nigeria is ranked 134 out of 167 says it all! It is clear that we are going nowhere within the context of 21st Century development, without Software Innovation and disruptive creative strategy.

A significant part of our national IT challenge is our unconscious and very simplified behavioral response to IT development without critical perspective on global IT Ecosystem. Above all, amidst this lethal knowledge ocean, the unfathomable contradiction is that while we confusingly glorify other out-of-state failed and repackaged digital knowhow, we languish and crucify Nigeria developed Software at all levels! Is this attitudinal mismatch the bane of the lost heritage of our traditional knowledge?

Based on all analytic and predictable indications, the ‘Digital Heavywind’ is coming sooner than expected, to further disrupt the global ICT Ecosystem with a centrifugal knowledge force capable of blowing away Nigeria’s future survivability with a devastating impact beyond our collective imagination. However extractions from this impactful expectation present the nation and particularly the ICT Professionals, Practitioners and Stakeholders with the audacity to engage the emerging challenge! Since 2003-to Date, (within the context of World e-participation leadership status), Nigeria has lagged too far behind globally in innovation, at the Africa Continent level and indeed at the Regional e-participation leadership level. What is the matter? And how do we overcome the complex challenges?

It will amount to a digital fallacy to expect 180 million Nigerians to provide the sophisticated winning formula for our Nation building. No, the current challenge of the globalized knowledge economy requires perhaps, only 5million smart, passionate, energetic, disruptive and pragmatic brains to deliver Nigeria from her present anti-ICT Okada Economy. Our disconnected and asymmetrical IT strategy which is holistically anti-Software and Intellectual property based has grossly affected our goals to harness our collective potentials to effectively transform governance, infrastructure, education, health, transportation, housing, child-care and indeed our dilapidated environment. Too bad!

Simple science informed us that ‘the velocity of an object is the rate of change of its position‘. Information Technology development velocity is therefore equivalent to a specification of its speed and direction of motion’. Lessons learned over the time in history have revealed long ago, that ‘Change is indeed the compression of time and crisis’. But the inherent irony is that we have become the world champion in Technology components and products consumption.

For example, we are currently the largest importer of generators in the world for the simple fact that we cannot organize and sustain power generation and distribution! Not only that, we are equally the largest imported and consumer of water pumping machines – for the simple fact that we have water everywhere, but ensuring that there is none is there to drink! Also, it is no more news that the largest ship wreck site in the world is Lagos? It is unfathomable that while we procreate, we simply/blindly forgot and/or blatantly refused to acknowledge that our population will grow, our children will need water to drink, classrooms to educate them, hospital to keep them healthy, Scientific Research and transportation infrastructure to set the population in accelerated productive motion by energizing our Intellectual Property.

But what indeed is a Digital Heavywind? Viewed within perspectives of the real world, let’s imagine a Tsunami flood with a ferociously combined landslide, transformed into a Digital nightmare taking our Financial System, Government, Aviation, Education, National Food chain and security hostage?

In other words, Digital Heavywind is my interpretation of the on-coming wave of global ICT dynamics clothed in a complex mix of Inter-Cloud-Bigdata-Algorithm-Broadband-driven Cyber- strikes, innovation Hacks, digital hostage, etc. – where Nigeria is indeed most vulnerable and will be caught unawares and defenseless without a Brainband Army. We need more Brainband than Broadband to survive! With over 12 billion digital devices connected to the Internet and counting, energized by the amazing strength of IPv6, Internet of Things (& Everything), nations that do not heed the signs and prepare well, will harvest the consequences of their acts.

As the year 2015 wines down, blazing ahead for a planned critical closure of the second decade in 21st Century IT development opportunities, initiatives and benefits, it is increasingly clear that many nations – including Nigeria will slip further into the abyss of IT hostage-nations awaiting to be converted into digital colonies, unless our current IT strategies are radically restructured and redirected from conspicuous consumption to conscious innovation and creativity Platforms.

Uwaje, the Chairman/Chief Executive Offiecr of Mobile Software Solutions and Past-President of Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) writes from Lagos.

Moving forward, it is pertinently instructive to admit that Nigeria, simply put, is technologically backward in terms of innovation and creativity and scores very poor on global ICT e-Readiness Status 2011/2012/2013/2014/2015! In my Professional opinion, the above scenario emanated due to the facts that Information Technology articulation and implementation was more or less hijacked by intruders and its implementation shielded and packaged in deliberate exclusion of the core practicing professionals.

Indeed, IT has for a long time been treated as a plague, same goes for Science, Technology and innovation and for mathematics. Irrespective of the office unless we strategically equip and empower the workforce with the dynamic tools of Information Technology, there may be no innovation and creativity to deliver global competitiveness for accelerated national development.

One of the inalienable facts is that we cannot compete effectively within the global IT landscape without consciously building world class IT-Knowhow capability. Moreover, this strategic manpower type must be based on the critical mass of available resources – 80 per cent of which resides in Software (including embedded systems) capability. By extension, the accelerator required to complement the established strategy is the adoption of Software Manpower Conversion tactic.

With over 65 per cent Youth population – majority who are digital natives, scavenging all around, Facebook, Google, Instagram, WhatApp, Linkindl, Yahoo, among others, Nigeria can effectively disrupt the world ICT Ecosystem if we use our imagination to recue, cluster and reuse the abundant Big- Data and evaporating skills. We have the multi-dimensional engineering manpower in abundance, which can be converted to Software Engineering capacities within the shortest possible time of 18-24 months sandwich program. Talking and planning about broadband, without brainband in parallel articulation is a faulty policy adoption, due to the fact that it does not cut in with the global IT go-to-market strategy and scalable content interface. Today, we live in a world where 5 year olds in many countries are encouraged and tactically compelled to learn Software programming. And by extension, where technology Research and Development has become the oxygen of life.

Technology is the application of knowledge to the practical needs of human life. The norm of the civilized world is: Train doctors: build hospitals, train Lawyers: establish Court Rooms, train Sports people: establish sporting facilities, train Computer Scientists and Technologist: empower them with local content laboratories, national tasks and patronage to create world-class digital solutions.

The worlds has moved on, and now talk about IPv6, IoT, Brain2Brain Communications, AI, Big Data Analytics, Embedded Systems, Trojan Horses, e-Innovation, Cloud and Inter-Cloud Computing, CyberSpace Intrusion, e-Warfare, Automated Government, Superlative Start-ups etc. while we are busy wasting precious knowledge time defining Card Reader out of context and talking about calculator-based election results!

IT and Software-Nigeria have come of age and must be trusted, empowered, challenged to perform and deliver patronage to generate massive youth employment. Last but not the least and at the risk of repeating oneself for greater emphasis, ‘the Nigerian IT landscape looks very bright, but our national development agenda may not scale, unless software engineering development is placed at the driver’s seat of our national development. Currently, the wanton neglect of Software Engineering and multimedia development is Nigeria today has grossly accelerated technology underdevelopment of our people.

In clear terms, a suppressed technology development environment slows down national creativity and productivity and very dangerous to our survivability Ecosystem. If Broadband is a survivability model, we have been tinkering with it for years and the current result is motion without movement actions.

Brainband strategy: what have other countries done? Australia needed 8 years from 2010: To deliver broadband at speed of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) to 90 percent of Australian homes, schools and businesses through fiber-optic cables connected directly to buildings. The other 10 percent of people would get a wireless upgrade. Canada needed about 3 years (2009- 2012): To extend broadband coverage to all currently unserved communities. Finland needed 7 years (2009-2015), to provide ultrafast broadband to every household in Finland, with download speeds of at least one megabit per second by 2010, with a rampup to 100 megabits by 2016, including households in rural areas.

France needed 5 years from 2008-2012, to provide ultra broadband networks to 4 million households through FTTH access by 2012. Moreover, 400 cyber bases will be created in schools within five years and schools, which already have access will be modernized.
Provision of universal access to broadband Internet at affordable prices has been made available throughout France by 2010. Germany needed 10 years from, 2009-2018. The second phase is to bring broadband access at 50 Mbps or above, to 75 per cent of the households – 2014. The first phase of the strategy is for all homes in Germany to have broadband access at 1 Mbps – 2010, with Global Cloud Computing Technology (GCCT).

Nigeria can become a Continental Hub, by developing a Satellite-enabled knowledge-based socio-economic-environmental simulation system and a climate simulation system in parallel fashion, both of which are to be interconnected on a global scale. Each GCCT represents a linking project involving various countries, which will maintain the sub-models of their countries autonomously – along with construction and maintenance of its databases, modification of their sub-models, and supply of game players in cooperation with their overseas counterparts through the global Internet.

The dynamic simulation tool would support comprehensive, integrated long-term national development planning with comparative analysis of different policy options, and help users to identify the set of micro policies that tend to lead towards desired development goals such as sustainable development goals (SDGs).

In conclusion, Nigeria needs more Brainband to survive 21st century development challenges.
Our core competences for global competitiveness reside in the Knowledge engineering space. Our Intellectual Property (IP) is undoubtedly the magic wand for Africa to master the future. With over 100,000 students currently studying Computer Science in our tertiary institutions (though, we need about 500,000 annually to build competitiveness), we will have ourselves to blame if we cannot convert their brain content in the technology arena to accelerate development.

Many nations have mastered the Software Engineering and Development. The same applies to satellite technology and they have earned immense benefit and strategic empowerment that has contributed positively to their GDP and eradication of poverty. What are other nations doing in the Satellite space? It is instructive to note that there is huge revenue involved in the global satellite industry and related businesses.

According to the Satellite Industry Association (SIA) in their 2009 global report, the overall worldwide industry revenue growth was 19% from 2007 to 2008, compared with a 15% increase from 2006 to 2007. Satellite Services increased by more than 16% from 2007 to 2008, largely due to growth in satellite television revenues while Satellite Manufacturing revenues declined slightly, reflecting fewer satellites launched. Launch Industry revenues grew by 20% from 2007 to 2008, fueled by a general increase in launch prices, despite fewer launches, while ground equipment revenues grew by 34% in 2008, a significant increase over the 19% growth in 2007.

Many nations have therefore strengthened their satellite development and services framework to further maximize their benefits. Software remains perhaps the most strategic option to be considered when the focus in on accelerated development for e-Government, e- Education, e-Health SMEs growth and productivity, transparency, accountability etc. for nation building and creation of wealth. To compete, Nigeria needs at least, 10 IT Knowledge Parks and 50 Innovation Hubs…. like yesterday! Heavywind: Nigeria must prepare now before the Digital Heavywind arrives to sweep us into….!
Uwaje the Chairman/Chief Executive Offiecr of Mobile Software Solutions and Past-President of Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) writes from Lagos.


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