Government Too Slow In Adopting ICT — Ex-NCC boss

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Dr Ernest Ndukwe, former Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), says the three tiers of government in Nigeria are slow in adopting Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

Addressing Nigeria eGovernment 2019 Conference on Thursday in Lagos, Ndukwe said Nigeria should embrace new technologies like other developing countries of the world.

The theme of the conference was; ‘Powering Governance with Information and Communication Technology’.

“We have been a bit slow in adopting ICT in Nigeria. Our government has been slow to embrace technology. Government agencies hardly take their website seriously.

“Technology is moving ahead to be able to sort out problems for the future and Nigeria cannot be left behind,” said the former NCC chief executive.

Ndukwe cited the example of the nation’s land and seaports where adoption of new technologies could ensure faster and accurate scanning and clearing of goods.

The former NCC boss said that technology could also solve 80 to 90 per cent of problems in tax collection which would earn government more revenues to provide social services for the populace.

“Nigeria is the giant of Africa, we must also be giant of Africa even in the area of technology by adopting and mainstreaming technology in governance in our country,’’ Ndukwe said.

Also speaking at the event, Executive Vice  Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the introduction of e-government was beneficial to government in several ways, most significantly, in the area of public procurement and electronic applications.

Dambata, who was represented by Dr Henry Nkemadu, NCC Director of Public Affairs, said e-government had expanded access to potential suppliers and increased the number of offers received in a timely manner.

“In Nigeria, the deliberate decision to deploy ICT for public service delivery is, in part, traceable to the formulation of the Nigerian National Telecommunications Policy in 2000.

“ The policy seeks to make Nigeria an ICT-driven country in Africa and a key player in the information society and also use IT for education, wealth creation, poverty eradication, job creation, governance, health and agriculture.

“Through the policy, the Federal Government expressly announced the initiative of the government to deepen its digital and online presence to enhance its operation of the government in providing public services in a transparent, effective and efficient means,” he said.

Danbatta disclosed that the Commission exceeded its target for Broadband Penetration in 2018 and would continue its drive towards universal access as detailed in the framework of its Eight-Point Agenda.

According to him, as at August 2019, 2G subscriptions stood 122.9 million, corresponding to 64.42 per cent of the population.

Also, there were 49.7 million 3G subscriptions equivalent to 26.03 per cent of the population with 17.3 million 4G subscriptions, representing 9.07 per cent of the population.

Broadband penetration on 3G and 4G, which are categorised as broadband networks, therefore, stood at 35.10 per cent in August, 2019.

He disclosed that the Commission was actively exploring the utilisation of television white space (TVWS) technology to expand affordable broadband services to rural areas.

According to him, NCC has issued Infrastructure Company (InfraCo) Licences to some organisations to deploy fibre across the geopolitical zones with Access Points in all the 774 local government areas of the federation.

“The NCC is also working with the Ministry of Communications and other necessary stakeholders towards addressing the perennial industry challenges such as the Right of Way (RoW) issues, multiple taxation and regulation.

“Others  are vandalism/fibre cuts, theft of telecoms equipment, insecurity, power problem, among others, all of which are critical industry issues impeding fast broadband infrastructure deployment in the country.

“These has impacted the level of access to government, businesses and individuals to enjoy e-government services.

“In the second quarter of 2019, the Federal Government, building on the 2000 Telecommunications Policy, officially launched the ‘Nigeria e-Government Master Plan 2020,’’ he said

Danbatta said that the Master Plan, which was the brainchild of the Federal Ministry of Communications, was aimed at achieving government’s vision and objective of Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) for a virile economy.

The NCC boss charged experts both from public and private sectors to also examine what this Plan meant for the country within the broad spectrum of e-government drive.

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