Aside from the strong presence of manufacturing industries, Ogun State's proximity to Lagos State -- Nigeria's commercial hub -- is one of its advantages over other states of Nigeria. However, in spite of the industries, the state is mostly perceived as a civil service state.
But the state is on a mission to change that narrative by positioning itself as a tech hub while also playing a key role in the national and global tech community. Consequently, the state government plans to allocate 2% of its capital budget to IT infrastructure and industrial training for five consecutive years.
Ogun State is opening up to becoming the gateway for technology in the nation. And towards achieving this mission, the state government has waived right of way charges for MainOne Cable Company to lay 250 km broadband fibre in the state. The cable company has started laying fibre already as evidenced during the South-Western Nigeria edition of the Techpoint Innovation Tour.
The fibre laying is expected to be concluded by the end of 2018 according to the Special Assistant to the Ogun State governor on New Media, Ayoola Olaniyi. It’s interesting to know that the state recognises technology as a catalyst to national development in a rapidly changing global environment.
Other steps to ensure that Ogun State strategically positions itself in the nation’s tech space is the introduction of a state Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Policy which was approved in November, 2018. The Special Adviser to the State Governor on ICT, Bunmi Adebayo shared the policy document with Techpoint.
The vision of the policy is to achieve an IT-driven state by using ICT tools as the engine for sustainable development and global competitiveness. And the mission is to deploy technology in governance while offering efficient service delivery to the populace.
Also, the state sees the policy as a way to respond to the emerging global reality in the technology space while ensuring that it doesn’t become a victim of the digital divide in the long run.
But beyond having a broad vision, the stated objectives of the policy are not so definite. The objectives of the policy include:
- To provide attractive career opportunities
- To develop requisite skills in various aspects of ICT
- To develop indigenous software to earn foreign exchange
- To develop domestic computer components
Apparently, the state has a Bureau of Information Technology (BIT) which was established in 2003. It is currently being reinvigorated according to the policy document. The bureau will establish and develop a State Information Infrastructure (SII) Backbone and Local Information Infrastructure (LII).
Aside from the information infrastructure to be developed, the policy will also see to the establishment of the Ogun State Information and Communication Technology Development Fund (OGITDF) and Ogun State IT Procedure and Regulation (OGITPR). There will also be IT zones and IT Villages across all the senatorial districts of the state.
Furthermore, the policy hints at what it wants to achieve in almost every sector of the economy including the likes of legislation, governance, security and law enforcement. Strategies for attaining the objectives are also outlined.
Some of the key objectives of the policy include making IT skill acquisition mandatory for all government employees, ensuring inter-connectivity between government organisations for seamless information sharing and providing Internet connectivity access most government employees.
These and many more are expected to be achieved by the end of 2022. However, the 2% budgetary allocation will not start until 2022. And beyond the 5-year allocation, the policy doesn’t point out the means of funding the OGITDF. This questions the chances of achieving the set objectives as funding is key to achieving some of them.
Worthy of note is that the budgetary allocation for IT infrastructure was approved at the second National Council on Communication Technology (NCCT) meeting held in 2013, which makes one would wonder why it won’t take effect till 2022 -- exactly 9 years after the approval by the council.
Also, the 5-year 2% allocation is meant for the short to medium term objectives. But there’s the need for sustainability of these short to medium term objectives in the long run, considering the budgetary allocation to IT will not be perpetuated. This will, no doubt, have an effect on the sustainability of whatever achievement that must have been recorded within the five-year period.
While we have to wait about five years for a majority of the objectives of the policy, there’s a goal with a shorter timeline which is the establishment of the Information Infrastructure Backbone which will use satellite, including VSAT, fibre optic networks, high-speed gateways and broadband/multimedia. This is expected to be achieved within 36 months and we know for sure that MainOne Cable Company is currently laying 250km of cable in the state.
Will the state government eventually achieve the objectives of the policy? That remains to be seen. We must also not forget the fact that the Senator Ibikunle Amosun-led administration has about six months left; there are always questions about the continuity of government projects and policies when there’s a change of government.