The Federal government has made provision for N166.6 million in the 2017 budget for the establishment of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) University and N70 million to create a technology park in Abuja to deepen knowledge and application of ICT through the Ministry of Communications.
This year, the Ministry will be spending N7.5 billion on various ICT projects out of the N18.7 billion allocated to it. Aside the ICT University, the government said it will be spending N320 million on establishments of government’s ICT computer/devices repairs and assembly centre.
Other projects to be implemented by the ministry in 2017 include construction and equipping of ICT centres in Otukpo, Benue State and Yola in Adamawa state, each of which would gulp N70 million. Similarly, an ICT statistical office is to be established at the cost of N8.5 million.
The Minister of Communication, Barrister Adebayo Shittu gave assurance that the university would be up and running before the middle of this year. “By the grace of God, in the next three to six months, we should have established in Nigeria an ICT university which will be first of its kind in Africa.
“This is with the sole purpose of providing training environment and training facilities to make the industry have enough skilled manpower in various sub sectors of the ICT sector. I am happy to say that we already have what is called the Digital Bridge Institute which is for short term training programmes in six locations across the country and we hope to transform this institute into the ICT University of Nigeria.
“I am already talking to a lot of operators at the international level, Facebook, Motorola, Ericson, all of them. We are encouraging them to come and adopt the university campuses as their own. “They can bring in money and bring in faculties and a lot of logistics to assist in training Nigerians and we can now export these trained skilled facilitators to African countries to work’’, he added.
Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) executive secretary, Mr. Ajibola Olude, reacting to the budget allocation, said it signals the readiness of the government in establishing the university, describing it as a good move in the right direction. He said through this government has started giving the required attention to the ICT sector.
While urging governments at state level to also toe the line of giving recognition to ICT, he said with ICT University enhancing ICT knowledge, Nigeria in the next few years would be able to manufacture its own devices and this would reduce pressure on foreign exchange and boost the nation’s economy.
But Mr. Emmanuel Amos, managing director of Programmos Software, argued that many of the existing institutions offering ICT related courses have been running without the basic equipment and quality standards expected to run them, which eventually are reflecting the caliber of graduates they are churning out, whom he described as ‘unemployable.
He said without solving the problems facing the existing institutions, the idea of an ICT University can never be sustained, even when built. “Agovernment t that has failed and have not identified a correction to the existing problems cannot build and sustain an ICT university in Nigeria. The hope is that they do not turn it into nursery school after,” he said.
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