John writes from Fantsuam:
The new acting Director General of the Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr Ashiru Daura, hosted a meeting of key stakeholders of the IT industry. Fantsuam Foundation was invited and had the opportunity to meet with the major players in the Nigerian IT industry: Nigerian private sector players such as the Computer Professionals of Nigeria, The Business People (TBP), top media representatives and multinationals like Microsoft, Huawei, Intel and MainOne. Fantsuam Foundation was the only NGO in attendance at this national event. This point was brought home to the audience by the CEO of The Business People, Jummai Umar-Ajijola (PhD) when she observed that there needs to be sustained support for NGOs that are engaged in IT development and deployment in Nigeria, to encourage more civil society engagement.
Highlights of the brainstorming session included:
- undertaking an audit/ inventory of ICT infrastructures, initiatives, proofs of concept, to inform NITDA’s strategy to enhance synergy within the industry
- the need for a regulatory framework that will mandate educational and health institutions etc, to ensure they are all IT-compliant within a short time of establishment
- constitute a committee that will develop a framework of the various interventions discussed at the meeting
- being proactive in getting various tiers of Government to create an enabling environment for ICT development through collaboration in provision of infrastructure
- engagement of NITDA in more ground breaking pilots to convince investors of available opportunities and
- enhanced visibility for and engagement with IT-focused NGOs who are working in the Last Mile where private sector investment is scarce
Fantsuam Foundation took the opportunity to inform the audience that the explosion in the number of mobile service users in Nigeria is largely due to the fortuitous coverage of mobile signals in rural Nigeria where most Nigerians live, rather than through planned service provision. The Fantsuam Foundation Knowledge Resource Centre (KRC) is evidence of the potential in rural Nigeria, when facilities are provided. The KRC had its seed funding from Microsoft, and with technical support from Dadamac-UK it has grown to be the hub of development for the organization. The Fantsuam ZittNet Academy is another example of an integrated rural connectivity solution with its hybrid back-up power and use of low power computers to provide internet access and computer literacy programs to underserved rural communities.