by Remi Adebayo, Abuja
Nigeria’s quest for adequate and diverse professionals in the Information and Communication Technology sector will soon be realistic with the inauguration of the Implementation Committee for the proposed ICT University of Nigeria.
The committee was inaugurated on Thursday by the Minister of Communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu at the SGF Conference Room, Federal Secretariat in Abuja.
In his inaugural speech, the Minister expressed delight that a new history was being written in the annals of ICT development in Nigeria.
He said with the growth rate of 24.42 per cent, ICT is the fastest growing sector in the Nigerian economy.
“This exponential growth in the sector was heralded by the liberalization of the telecommunications industry alongside technological development in the industry, supported by sound policy and regulatory frameworks. The result of this is an increasingly competitive industry, reduced digital divide, increased contribution to the GDP as well as an overall positive impact on all sectors of the nation’s economy.”
Justifying the need for the institution, Shittu noted that the local industry suffers from skills shortage, with nowhere near enough professionals to meet the demand for niche roles being created as a result of rapid technological development.
Continuing, the Minister said as the Nigeria ICT sector continues to evolve at a frenetic pace, and with technology increasingly converging into all sectors of the economy, the demand for technical talent and specialists across a range of sectors would continue to grow, in relation to the strive to meet the growing demand in the emerging digital economy.
As a way out, Barrister Shittu said his Ministry conceived the establishment of the institution as one of the ways to move to the next phase of the nation’s ICT growth by the enhancement of ICT learning environment that is geared towards the stimulation of creative thinking.
When functional, the university is targeted to replace the Digital Bridge Institute currently under the supervision of the Nigerian Communications Commission with campuses spread across the six geopolitical zones.
“The Institute, when transformed into the ICT University, will provide fit-for-purpose curricular to cater for University graduates with specialization in various ICT fields and expertise. This will create employment opportunities for Nigerians both locally, within the West-African sub-region and even at the international level, aside from several opportunities that would be created for self-employment.”
Shittu stressed the impotance of the proposed institution on Research and Development and human capacity building, saying they are key focus areas critical for the full development and harnessing of ICT to fast-track socio-economic progress in Nigeria.
In addition, the Minister clarified that R&D has the potentials to propel innovation while human capacity building helps to equip the people with necessary skills and literacy to innovate and to use ICT for further development.
Similar specialist universities have been established in South Korea, Singapore, India and Thailand where ICTs have driven economic development and integrated into schools curriculum with the industry as a focus.
When fully established, the university would offer mix of programmes providing specialist knowledge and expertise required for a professional career in Telecommunications, Internet of Things, Cyber Security, Robotic embedded systems, Computer forensics, digital media and Entertainment technology.
It is also expected to offer skills development programmes in emerging and transformational technologies and these would be delivered from a blend of theory, analysis, innovation and hands-on activities, such as project based learning and live industry-led projects in its teachings.
The committee has a former Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission, Professor Julius Okojie as chairman and Dr. Amina Sambo-Magaji of the Office of ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship, National Information Technology Development Agency as Secretary.