The Former President of Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) and the Director General of Delta State Innovation Hub, Dr. Chris Uwaje, in this interview with Olanrewaju Bukola speaks on the need for a constructive Information Communication Technology (ICT) Development Architecture to ignite innovation and navigate the future.
Nigeria recently celebrated 58th years of Independence, What has been the transformation in the ICT sector since the year 2000?
Thank you for finding me worthy to contribute to the ICT Knowledge dialogue within the context of our National development. 58 Years translated to the Cyberspace Data velocity is an awesome imagination in what can be accomplished in transformational development of Nations. 1999/2000 represents a landmark date and time for the emergence of the nation’s Information Technology Ecosystem where I was privileged to have pioneered the National IT Development Policy for Nigeria. Since then, a lot of ICT development building blocks have been added between 2000 to date.
It was reported that the sector recorded 12.39 per cent growth in GDP. Is this contribution enough to our economy?
Without doubt, ICT sector has contributed significantly to the national GDP both in terms of Micro and Macro development index. Yes, we can achieve much more if we constructively focus on Software development by harnessing the innovative creativity of the Nigeria Youth.
What can you say about the ICT sector under the current ministry of com-munication adminis-tration?
The Minister of Communi-cation, Barrister Adebayo Shittu has done well in translating and performing his mandate – based on the fact that as a lawyer, he was appointed and came into a Technology Domain which he knew very little about. But it must be acknowledged that he learned the ropes very fast and used inclusive leadership strategy and open door policy to galvanize the ICT Stakeholders and Community at home and abroad to present, sell and advance his advocacy and indeed the tall dream of establishing an ICT University that was grossly misunderstood at that time.
With all the challenges militating against Nigeria ICT sector’s faster growth, experts’ views and propo-sed solutions. What can you say, is still holding ICT growth back in the country?
Here is a great difference between ‘Growth and Development’! Indeed, in my candid opinion, the Nigeria ICT sector is miraculously growing at a fast rate without the commensurate ‘Development’ prerequisites which are fundamental for sustainable development. Therefore, we need a more visionary, dynamic and constructive ICT Development Architecture to navigate the future, ignite innovation capabilities of the Youth and secure the dreams of generations yet unborn.
Recently, the federal government signed a partnership deal with the Chinese Group, NetDragon Websoft Holdings Limited on the establishment of digital education institute and provision of smart learning classrooms across the country; as the former President of ISPON and the Director General of Delta State Innovation Hub, how does this partnership promote of local content?
Both Local and International Collaboration in the ICT development is necessary to ensure success of Nigeria’s development and mastery of her Information and Communications Technology challenges. However our IT Local Content mission may not be attained when 90 per cent of our ICT development requirements capabilities is outsourced to international interest and platforms – constituting digital generational dependently risks, fueling youth unemployment and grossly disenabling the digital revolution dreams, promises and benefits from reaching the over 60per cent of the underserved Nigerians. The ISPON has the Software Innovation shills, capabilities and also desirous in ensuring that the IT Software Ecosystem becomes our national ICT development focus, mission, strategy and leads the emerging positive digital transformation and national security aspirations of Nigeria. There can be no Cyber security without Software Mastery Security. We should aspire to be a “Software-First” nation.
On the issue of promotion of local content, what impact will its full adoption have on the sector and the economy at large?
Local Content with regards to ICT Innovation develop-ment translates to the emergence of systems of innovation and creative solutions, products and services, where the transfer of foreign monetary exchange is not required. From the above, the benefits are immense – ranging from the provision of massive employment opportunities for the youth, girl child, the millions of underserved and disabled citizens out there. Above all, it would not only empower the citizenry, accelerate wealth creation and reliable national security.
What roles does the Nigerian woman play in the development of our ICT sector? Do you think they are celebrated enough?
Our population is now estimated at above 200 million people, where women and the girl-child makes up about 52 per cent. This represents a huge e-Commerce market. Not only that, Women in Tech are great assets in the ICT education, advocacy, group empowerment, as ICT Knowledge, Models and indeed Software Developers and Engineers. Lest we forget, Ada Lovelace, the first globally recognized Software Developer was a woman. A simple Math therefore dictates that a nation that neglects digital access and empowerment of the majority of her population will not only be one of the late arrivals in the global e-Knowledge Olympiad Competition, but indeed a digital colony held hostage in her national Cyberspace gateway.
Under the past administration of Mrs. Omobola Johnson, one of its vision is the Digital Girls Club (the 1000 ICT Girls training programme) to stimulate an early interest in Nigerian girls and young women with ICT knowledge; does the Delta State Innovation Hub promote this?
DSIHUB (Delta State Innovation Hub) is women empowerment focused and friendly. The DS-Innovation Hub is the ultimate experience and world class destination for new knowledge-centered innovation and adventure in creativity. It is desirous to be positioned and acclaimed as professionally designed knowledge architecture and technology focused platform. The DSIHub is a Private-Public Partnership (PPP) Platform for the promotion of Technology innovation and creativity. The DSIHub is accredited through peer review, as the first Knowledge-Innovation and Science & Technology Park in the South-South of Nigeria. It is located in Asaba – the capital city of Delta State.
This Innovation Hub is classified as the metropolis of smarter ideas, creativity and a distinct catalyst for new thinking, values, renewable entrepreneurial leadership and constructive governance. The DS-Innovation Hub is a disruptive technology platform for re-engineering the blueprint for smarter processes, more effective leadership and governance for inclusive public service. The DSIHub provides expertise on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) policy roadmap and implementation strategy advise on new processes and emerging approaches; from conceptualization, application and usage of Information and Communications Technology to respond to challenges and drive innovative solutions at all levels of engagement.
Is the country in need of more innovation hubs and its relevance to the sector?
Certainly, we need more innovation hubs in this country. The whole world has become a crystal ball of Innovation. Nigeria needs at least 1million Innovation Hubs.
The ultimate mission is to develop our Innovation Hub as a world-class knowledge factory. As Nigeria moves into midstream of the 21st century – with an estimated population of 400million people, its wealth creation dynamics and international competitiveness will be significantly influenced by her ability to develop measure and exploit her intellectual capital (IP) in IT, Innovation and creativity. Indeed, many of the new business opportunities for Nigerian and African firms will depend on their ability to develop Innovative skills and capacity for IT-smart applications, solutions, products and services which respond to the expanding role of Science and Technology across the economic development Ecosystem.
Moving forward, in both government and the business worlds, our understanding is that the organizations which will benefit most from the transformative role of IT are those which treat IT as a key strategic resource for achieving organisational goals rather than as a purely technical input. DS Innovation Hub recognizes your idea as a leading and disruptive component, future hope and Innovation accelerator for infinite passion and commitment to deploying technology for national development and wealth creation. With regards to Innovation and Software Engineering Development, I belief that a Nigerian will break a World record this 21st Century.