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NITDA wakes up to responsibilities in ICT sector *As Jack vows to jack-up ICT devt tempo *promises to give NITDA Act some teeth

While Nigeria’s achievements in the information and communications technology industry have become ready subjects of discussions at global forums, the National Information Technology
Development Agency (NITDA), has given indication of a new focus to further raise the tempo of activities aimed at taking the country’s ICT industry to greater heights.
The Director-General of NITDA, Mr. Peter Jack, gave the indications in Abuja, while throwing more light on the agency’s plans to ensure that the ICT industry is properly regulated and evaluated on an on-going basis in line with the content of the NITDA Act 2007.
Jack says the NITDA Act 2007 gives the federal government agency the over-all responsibilities to regulate, monitor, evaluate, and verify progress on an on-going basis in the ICT industry, under the supervision and coordination of the Federal Ministry Communication Technology.
According to him, although Nigeria has made much progress in the industry, “there is need for renewed moves, focus and activities to ensure that the tempo that has been generated is further strengthened so that we can take this industry with renewed vigour to greater heights,”.
He said NITDA will not relent on its efforts to bridge ICT gap in Nigeria through its programmes and policies targeted at developing technology and its usage across the country. The agency in highlighting some of its achievements said though the journey of the last few years has been quite eventful with its ICT programmes and projects spreading throughout the country, it is ready to do more to promote ICT usage and adoption in public and private sectors.
According to the NITDA ACT 2007, NITDA is saddled with the responsibilities of “creating the framework for the planning, research, development, standardisation, application, coordination, monitoring,
evaluation and regulation of Information Technology practices, activities and systems in Nigeria and all matters related thereto and for that purpose, and which without detracting from the generality of the foregoing shall include providing universal access for Information Technology and systems penetration including rural, urban and under-served areas.”
The agency is also to “provide guidelines to facilitate the establishment and maintenance of appropriate information technology and systems
application and development in Nigeria for public and private sectors, urban-rural development, the economy and the government.
It is to also “develop guidelines for electronic governance and monitor the use of electronic data interchange and other forms of electronic communication transactions as an alternative to paper-based methods in government, commerce, education, the private and public sectors, labour, and other fields, where the use of electronic communication may improve the exchange of data and information.”
Other mandates of the agency include: To develop guidelines for the networking of public and private sector establishment; develop guidelines for the standardisation and certification of Information Technology Escrow Source Code and Object Code Domiciliation, Application and Delivery Systems in Nigeria among several others.
In fulfilment of these mandates, NITDA has embarked on infrastructural development and human capacity development projects across the country.
The agency said it has been delivering its mandates through human capacity development programmes such as Scholarship Scheme for graduates andundergraduates; Cisco Network Academy; Train-The-trainer Programme; Catch-Them-Young; Free and Open Source-Software Training; Enterprise
Technology Centre and Kado Resource Centre; Training of Unemployed Graduates in IT Essentials; ICT Youth Empowerment Scheme; and Business Process Outsourcing.
For ICT infrastructure development, NITDA is pushing the country forward through the establishment of Rural Information Technology Centres (RITCs); Mobile Internet Units; Virtual Libraries; Software Development Centres; IT Parks; IT Infrastructure for Tertiary Institutions; and Public Service, Network (PSNET) among others.
According to the agency, the Rural Information Technology Centre (RITC) project is aimed at bringing Information Technology (IT) to the doorsteps of Nigerians by ensuring that the under-served areas get access to IT infrastructure, adding that it has established over 395 centres since it commenced the project in 2009.
“RITCs are built to provide a community-based platform for youth empowerment through e-learning and capacity building in Information Technology and community-based trainings in IT-enabled outsourcing and promoting equitable access to assets (education, information, and technology) and each centre is equipped with computers and accessories, internet facilities with alternative power source provided via solar power. The e-learning package is meant to enable users to train themselves on a variety of subjects from secondary school level upwards” it said.
To accelerate ICT development across the country, NITDA has also been pushing for collaboration of all the 36 States of the Federation on adoption of individual state IT policy.

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