Nigeria’s top IT implementing agency has N500 million set aside to sponsor academic research by scholars and institutions to foster ICT growth in the country.
Technology Times review of the agency’s documents show that the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the nation’s IT Policy implementer, has set a N500 million annual grant and research fund to sponsor academic research projects conducted by Nigerian scholars and educational institutions that develops the country’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.
The “tech-support” grant is one of the cardinals areas stipulated in the guidelines for Nigerian Content Development in Information and Communication Technology promoted by the Office for Nigerian Content Development in Information & Communication Technology (ONC), a unit under NITDA, the nation’s IT Policy implementing agency.[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ bgcolor=”#” color=”#” bcolor=”#” arrow=”yes”]For any country, particularly developing ones to achieve steady growth and stability in its economy, it must invest in local content development and as such series of researches ought to be carried out for that purpose, the IT agency believes, in setting aside the grants.[/quote]
For any country, particularly developing ones to achieve steady growth and stability in its economy, it must invest in local content development and as such series of researches ought to be carried out for that purpose, the IT agency believes, in setting aside the grants.
Under plans to grow the Nigerian technology sector, the role of higher education research in national development cannot be overemphasized and as a result, governments all over the world have seen the need to sponsor academic researches by scholars through grants, according to the architects of the guidelines. It is on this premise that the government IT implementing agency established the grant for academic researches by scholars and academic institutions in Nigeria.
The guidelines primarily known as Guidelines on Nigerian Content in Information Communication Technology (ICT) which has been effective from December 2013 is intended by the Federal Government to see that local contents are promoted in the ICT sector, especially through academic researches.
According to a section of NOC’s Guidelines, NITDA shall proactively address perception of quality of locally made-ICT products and services by working with leading global organizations such as International Standard Organization (ISO), American Society for Quality, Lean Enterprise Institute and others with the involvement of Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON). The IT agency is also expected to work with other local industry groups “to train and assist local ICT companies to improve their products and processes.”
According to the the guidelines, NITDA is to work on “promoting specialization in different areas of ICT in higher institutions and where possible provide funding for the setup of centres of excellence in select universities and higher institutions and Promoting the creation of a minimum of six Software Engineering Centres of Excellence in partnership with Nigerian universities.’’
Also the guidelines added that, “each Software Engineering Centre shall: i. Produce a minimum of 200 Software Engineers annually that develop for leading operating system platforms using current programming languages and world class methods ii. Maintain partnerships with at least one international technology platform company iii. Maintain a curriculum that will be vetted by a Local Content Software Task Force.’’
NITDA is also sanctioned to perform the following roles of : reviewing and ranking of ICT programmes across all universities in Nigeria in partnership with CPN (Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria) and COREN (Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria) to ensure global competitiveness and industry relevance of IT-related programs.
The agency is also to promote the setup of the University of Information Technology to lead the study of and research in ICT; Promote and facilitate the commercialization of university research activities in order to engender and encourage entrepreneurship and skills development out of Nigerian universities and Provide incentives for Nigerian companies to develop for leading and emerging technology platforms to help the country transition from being a consumer to a producer of technology.
The responsibility assigned to NITDA in this portion of the guideline also include the establishment of technology incubation programmes for start-up communities, ICT clusters and other IT development networks to stimulate the growth of the sector, setup and maintain a website that provides access to government data and information, to promote and facilitate the creation of specialized software firms through incubation or funding programs so as to increase local participation in highly sophisticated systems design and development.
NITDA is also expected to encourage multinational technology platform companies to transition from merely selling their technologies in Nigeria to creating their technologies in-country, partner with CAPDAN, the Digital Bridge Institute and any other appropriate bodies to set up a Technical & Vocational Skill Acquisition and Training Programme for IT practitioners and small-scale vendors.
Following the recent free fall of the Naira against the dollar and other foreign currencies, many Nigerians have been advocating the need to promote local contents and buy locally-made products to grow the Nigerian currency, Naira and the economy.
The content of the ONC guidelines underscores this need for local content promotion and patronage for the growth of the Nigerian ICT industry and the country’s economy at large.