Nigeria’s Minister of of Communication, Barrister Adebayo Shittu (3rd from left) with other Ministers from Kenya, Ghana and Ethiopia and dignitaries from the Indian delegation at the just-concluded Indo-Africa ICT Expo 2017 held in Lagos.
Despite oppositions from some industry commentators on the proposed establishment of ICT Universities across the country, there are indications that the Ministry of Communications is already having encouragement from foreign organisations in line with the Minister’s visions.
Speaking at the just-concluded Indo-Africa ICT Expo in Lagos, Minister of Communications, Barrister Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu disclosed that the need for the university supersedes the reasons why some people are skeptical about the need for such an institution.
He pointed out that while students of Computer Science from Nigerian Universities needs hands-on training after school, less than 1% of people who those that deserve skills training actually are able to go to India to acquire it. He said the ICT University will provide such world class practical training at a very reduced cost, and also generate revenue because it will be open to other countries.
“In our world today, the role of academia cannot be ignored as we move ahead in ICT development. As Government, we recognize Research as a key component in stimulating sustainable ICT growth. In this direction, the Ministry in pursuance of its mandate of leveraging ICT in its entire ramifications and in order to promote local manpower of the ICT sector, is establishing a proposed ICT University of Nigeria with specialized programme on ICT across the six geopolitical zones in the country. The Ministry has reached out to a number of ICT companies locally and internationally for the PPP management of the proposed ICT University. Many have and still counting who have expressed enthusiasm towards investing in the project.”
The Minister revealed that two Universities in the USA have agreed to adopt two campuses, with one institution in Poland inviting the Minister for a discussion on the adoption of another campus.
While explaining that the Private sector will bring in the financing, technology and faculty needed for establishing the University, Barr. Shittu said the Ministry has reached out to ICT companies, both local and foreign, to help set up the University. “It will be a PPP (Public Private Partnership), one of the first and best in the world.”
While also calling on the government of India to join the cause by investing in the establishment of a campus of the University, the Minister hoped that the 36 state governors and 54 presidents in Africa will utilize the opportunity to sponsor their citizens to train in the university when it is established.
Also the Ministry has reached an advance stage in its plan to establish a befitting ICT Park and Exhibition Center in Abuja. This is to develop Nigeria’s ICT sector towards achieving a Smart Digital Nigeria.
Speaking at the Forum, Head of ICT, African Development Bank (ADB) Nicholas Williams, disclosed that that $10 billion has already been set aside for credit facility for Nigeria and other African countries. He noted that there are no shortage of ideas in the country, but projects are handicapped due to paucity of funds to execute them, hence the need for a PPP and other forms of collaborative efforts.
Also in funding the ICT sector, Barr. Shittu had earlier applauded South Korea’s injection of $500 million into assisting Nigeria in providing e-governance services.
He allayed fears of stakeholders in the ICT industry about the Indians coming to exploit the country’s resources and said the coming of the Indians was sequel to discussions he had with the Indian business community in Geneva early this year, where they promised to come in and invest $4 billion in the Nigerian IT industry, and also provide 1000 solar base station masts for 1000 rural communities in the country.