Editor’s Note: The Nigeria Internet Governance Forum is an annual convening of internet stakeholders — government and private alike — in the country with the primary aim of facilitating partnerships, coalitions and dialogues that will help redefine the governance of the internet in Nigeria. This year’s edition was held at the Shehu Musa Yar’ Adua Centre, Abuja.
At the Nigerian Internet Governance Forum (NIGF) held in Abuja, with the Minister of Communication and key stakeholders in attendance from the information and technology ecosystem, I highlighted the following points, and I would like to share them with you (especially those who requested that I did) and like to know your thoughts. My powerpoint presentation and that of other professionals at the forum are available for download on the NIGF website.
Establish Centres for Information Technology Economics and Law
Firstly, I recommended the need to establish the first “CENTRE FOR INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ECONOMICS AND LAW” (CITEL), within one or two key institutions of learning (particularly Universities) in Nigeria. This would serve as a Centre for pioneering advanced training, technical skills, and proactive development research on application, innovation, and policies for sustainable development of the ICT space in the West African sub-region and sub-Saharan Africa. It can be the first of its kind in the region to provide advanced training that produces and consolidates the technical, policy, and business skills of practitioners in the ICT space.
In fact, to ensure certification, sustainability, and internal inflow of funds, Postgraduate courses (leading to MSc and PhD), Diploma, and Executive Courses could be offered by the Centre for the entire West Africa sub-region and sub-Saharan Africa.
As a training institute, “CITEL” could further provide practical courses and seminars meeting the needs of professionals, investors, media houses, startup incubators, and others interested in the information and technology ecosystem.
Learn from Kenya and South Africa
Secondly, I posited the need for Nigeria to learn and improve on how Kenya overtook South Africa, and became tagged as “the Silicon Valley of Africa”. South Africa invested in Infrastructure and formulated policies that focused on encouraging foreign investment in the Information Technology space. However, Kenya did what the South Africans did, but with an extra, opening up training opportunities and grants for young Kenyans to develop advanced skills and localized technology products that meet the needs of Kenyans, in the language they understand. Developing localized skills in advanced technology beyond simple digital and virtual skills would help increase the local supply of technology that meets the local needs and spur local demand for such technology products, because technology demand must exist to encourage technology supply.
Reconsider Free Basics
Lastly, in ‘Keeping It Short and Simple’, I suggested the need to reconsider Facebook’s “Free Basics” offerings in Nigeria, and also prevent future “Zero Cost” based data offerings as “Free Basics”, whilst work is ongoing to make the internet affordable and accessible, not just part of it (for Facebook and his allies, at the expense of other web and mobile apps) but the entire internet.
I’d like to know your thoughts
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