The Federal Government has pledged its commitment to working with the private sector in achieving the country’s proposed digitization.
Speaking at a forum organised by Microsoft Nigeria in Abuja, the Minister of Communications, Barr. Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu acknowledged the efforts of the private sector firms in partnering with government agencies to set up facilities geared at improving the ICT skills and infrastructure of the nation.
In particular mention was the partnership between Microsoft, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). He said that the collaborations are commitments to supporting the government’s transformation by leveraging technology to drive productivity and empower citizens to do more. “Citizens’ engagement is a key performance indicator of any government and Microsoft, NITDA and NCC can provide robust platforms that will help citizens provide feedback and queries to their leaders. Ultimately, digitally transforming government leads to good governance, accountability to citizens and builds trust between the government and its citizenry,” the Minister said.
Further commending Microsoft, the Minister said: “I take this opportunity to applaud Microsoft and its contributions in the development and growth of the country through this noble initiative. The Ministry of Communications will continue to partner with the Organized Private Sector, and other stakeholders, in its bid to move the digitization efforts of the country forward. I would like once again to congratulate the Microsoft team for organizing this timely and commendable conference.”
The Minister further threw more light on government’s plan to expand its presence on a digital platform, 1-gov.net.
The platform, apart from consolidating existing government ICT infrastructure, also enables Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to exchange data in a seamless manner while allowing each other to remain independent and maintain its privacy and the security of its operations.
The Minister said through the 1-gov.net, government has become more participatory and accessible, allowing citizens to participate in policy processes through discussions, suggestions and online-polls.
“Various Government Departments are using this platform for seeking inputs on a wide range of issues. Using the 1-gov.net Platform, Government has been able to save 30 percent of what it would have expended on a unit per unit cost. As at date, 90 percent of all MDAs within Abuja are linked with fiber backbone and 3,500 locations of different MDAs have been touched across the country. About 270 MDAs websites and applications are being hosted on the network,” Barr. Shittu posited.
He added that the federal government has recorded success in 1-gov.net. “We now focus on some services that have direct bearing on the present administration’s priorities, and we are determined to continue with the shared ICT infrastructure and services initiative in the MDAs. The 1-gov.net is promoting Whole-of-Government approaches in the information Age based on shared services. This approach will enhance productivity of government officials, increase experience of patrons of government services, enhance security and drive out the menace of corruption.”
He said the government recognizes the urgent need to increase efficiency and transparency, improve and align processes, smart government and smart cities, attract new investors, bridge the digital divide, transform government transaction services, data-driven government, better access to and management of information, thereby enhancing citizen satisfaction and trust, meeting the needs of rapidly changing demographics and balancing costs while optimizing efficiency.
Barr. Shittu disclosed that government invests in shared ICT Infrastructure to secure the benefits of lower cost, increased security, increased innovation and faster service delivery. Adding that government is supporting the development and sustenance of ICT applications that are driving cost effectiveness and transparency in Government Service Delivery. He added that applications supporting the Treasury Single Accounts (TSA), IPPIS, Budget Portal and BVN verifications among others are already resulting in huge savings.
The Ministry of Communications, he said, has expanded the Open Government Data Portal which is a part of the Federal Government Open Data Initiative, stressing that many civil servants have been trained across MDAs on the use of the portal.
He said government would appreciate the opportunity for Microsoft to help train local ICT savvy youth and key into local content policy on current projects and priorities to ensure a smooth transition to a digitalized nation.