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NEED FOR FG TO CATAPULT ICT DEVELOPMENT

By NBF News
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The Nigeria Communications Week's, editor, Mr. Ken Nwogbo, has said that no modern economy can exist without fundamental Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure because these are tools for economic development.

He explained that some governments are transforming themselves into e-Governments to meet the challenges of modern day. Citing India as example where the government deliberately orchestrated chain of events that culminated in making that country one of the pillars of ICT in the world.Saying, 'Through government support and political will, Sri Lanka is on the path to become regional knowledge hub.

Malaysia also sees ICT as a powerful enabler of development in many sectors and government of the country has begun to invest and encouraged home grown ICT initiatives. These governments recognize that embracing ICT will result in improved transparency, speedy information dissemination, higher administrative efficiency and improved public services in sectors including transportation, education, power, health, water, peace and security; and the state administration and local services; and of-course due process office.

He observed that conventional wisdom supported by reliable economic studies dictates that market forces alone are incapable of accelerating the development and growth of ICT. Adding that government is the unseen hand that waives the magic. Responsible government is like a catalyst which speeds up reaction without seen to be taking part in the reaction.

'The proof lies in the fact that the gross domestic product of (GDP) of Singapore – with a population of 3.2million people – is over $40,000.In Nigeria the case is different, with a GDP of $2000 and seemingly unconcerned leaders, the country's economy is living very dangerously with over dependence on oil and gas. To show their disregard for ICT, it is on record that no past president of Nigeria has presided over a major ICT event in the country or outside the country.

'Apart from 2002, when the Atiku Abubakar, then vice president came to declare e-Nigeria open no high ranking Nigerian government official has ever made his or her presence felt in any ICT conference or fora.Unlike neighboring Ghana where top ranking government officials sit through and make meaningful contributions, Nigerian government officials are far removed and in fact contribute little to ICT fora.

'Elsewhere in Uganda, the government of that country has purposely built its development around ICT and it will not be surprising if Nigeria will start importing software and other ICT products from that county soon. It was the tool used the leaders (top government functionaries) of India, Bangladesh, Singapore, Ghana, Uganda and Malaysia to transform their countries.

'There are compelling reasons government must embrace ICT especially as it is the only sector that has shown signs of life despite the general meltdown. The only way forward is for government to begin to listen actively as well as show strong commitment to ICT related issues. Nigeria can also emulate India which gave a blanket exemption from tax to ICT, its largest growing sector'.