Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman at Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) wants gender stereotyping of Nigeria women in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector discouraged.
The telecoms boss who reckons that ICT is the world fastest growing sector says priority should be accorded to the promotion of technology career opportunities for girls and women in today’s connected world.
This was one of the key takeaways at the fifth edition of Girls in ICT Day 2016 organised by e-business Life Communication, publishers of e-Business Life Magzine.
Danbata, who was represented by Mr Tony Ojobo, Director of Public Affairs at NCC says that “what this programme is to challenge the girls that ICT is not only for boys. Women should come out; they should not be afraid or intimidated. They should embrace ICT because that is the future. ICT is what is going to guarantee a lot of placements for women in the future in terms of jobs and opportunities.”
According to him, girls and young women who learn coding, apps development and computer science will not only be well-placed for a successful career in the ICT sector, but ICT skills are rapidly becoming a strong advantage for students in just about any other field they might choose to pursue.
“And not to talk about certain programmes like ICT, where people traditionally think it’s for men. So the point is that these kinds of programmes coming from an international organization like ITU will make countries know that the girl child should be encouraged to study any course she deserves to study” Ojobo told participant at the event that attracted students, government, stakeholders and media professionals
According to him “apart from choosing ICT as a career, we are also looking at encouraging girls and women to embrace ICT and use it for their businesses. Today, we have a lot of them in the blog space. Those are the kind of things we are looking at, not just as a career but also using ICT as a tool in improving your businesses.”
He explains further that, “today for instance, we are talking about online shopping and online marketing. We have a lot of graduates today for instance, who are selling their products even on Facebook, on Twitter. So, the awareness of the fact that ICT can actually can create marketing opportunities for individuals.
“Those are the areas where we think that there is need for a lot of women who are in different professions to utilize ICT to actually improve on their products and also, create the avenues for their products to be sold, using digital marketing for instance”,he adds.
Speaking on the steps the Commission has taken in encouraging women to develop interest in the ICT sector, Ojobo says that ”NCC has provided sponsorship to successful participants of the competitions that have been hosted by ITU on the annual ITU events on a yearly basis.”
He further stated that as at 2015, NCC has had some interventions in the secondary schools around the federation and about 229 secondary schools have so far benefited from the telecoms regulatory agency’s intervention in the area of ICT equipment for schools like providing computers and internet for them for a year.
The NCC image maker says that, “what we have done is that we have created an opportunity for those schools to train some teachers who will also now train the students on the usage of ICT. What we call it is DAP (Digital Awareness Program), creating awareness for secondary school students in area of ICT unlike the days when we had people who read computer science in the universities and never touched a computer” .
“So what we want to do is that from secondary schools, we can have students exposed to computers, be able to access it and do a number of things on the internet so that that now generates the kind of interest required in them to even want to choose ICT related programs as a course of study in the university”.
According to him, “so, we have done that for secondary schools, we have also done that for universities and polytechnics. All the first and second generation universities in Nigeria today have been supported by NCC through a programme we call Advance Digital Awareness Program for Tertiary Institutions (ADAPTI).
According to the NCC Director of Public Affairs, the commission will continue to provide interventions and support programs and initiatives such as this so as to sensitize the girls and also sensitize our communities.
In her welcome address, Mrs. Ufuoma Emuophedaro, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, E-Business Life Communication Limited says that the programme is not just about getting girls and women to use ICT but to getting them to take up ICT-related careers and also to make use of their talents and innovations in ICT to grow the Nigerian economy.
The participating schools took part in a quiz and app development competition where Clemmy High school grabbed the prizes for first position both in the quiz and in the app development competition. PeakLane College also grabbed the prizes for second position both in the quiz and in the app development completion; Grace High School Gbagada grabbed the prize for third position in the quiz competition while Baptist Girls Academy grabbed the prize for third position in the app development competition.