By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria
Nigeria’s Minister of Communications Technology, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, has expressed concern over widening ICT skills gaps in the country, arguing that no nation can develop without the requisite skills set.
To close the gap, the minister said the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), the university community and the ministry must come together and speak with one voice.
Speaking during the foundation laying ceremony of Technology Innovation Centre (TIC) of the NCS in Lagos late last year, Shittu said in the 21st Century, global attention has shifted from nations with vast natural resources to nations with ability to explore and manage its technological innovations. He stressed the need for closer synergy among the relevant government agencies and professional bodies such as the NCS.
He said: “I have noted with much concern the gap between research output from our universities and the level of industrial commercialisation accorded them. I wish to propose a high-level tripartite dialogue between my Ministry, the Federal Ministry of Education and the NCS to address this concern
“In the 21st Century, global relevance has shifted from nations with huge natural resources to nations with developed human resources that can technologically explore, exploit and manage them.
“The solution to Nigeria’s economic setback entails the diversification of the productive base of our national economy and the urgent training and re-training of our national workforce technologically and digitally.
“The Technology Innovation Centre, in my opinion, will be a major part of the answer to the national objective of training and re-training our national workforce technologically and digitally.”
According to him, the time has come for Nigeria to deliver innovative products and services to the world and therewith assert herself on the world stage alongside the Western and the BRIC nations presently leading our world.
“The Technology Innovation Centre will participate in bridging the gap between the research outputs of our universities and their industrial application
“I wish to remind us that ICT is a veritable platform for sustainable employment and wealth creation through a robust People, Public, Private Partnership (4Ps) programme,” he said, adding that with the admixture of industry leaders, academics and seasoned administrators all joined by a common passion and interest which is ICT, the realisation of and practicalising President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘Change’ agenda will come all so easily.
Shittu said the Nigerian genius that had been wrongly noted for underhand innovations is highly capable of positive existential innovations given the right environment. He said the time has come for Nigeria, as a member of the MINT Bloc, to deliver innovative products and services to the world and therewith assert herself on the world stage alongside the Western and the BRICS nations presently global leaders.
He said technology, particularly ICT, is the critical driver of the knowledge-based economy of our post-modern world.
He said: “This reality of global relevance is now impacting unavoidably on our collective national psyche in Nigeria today with the situation of ever-dwindling international oil prices and, by extension, ever-dwindling national revenue generation. In today’s global village, the frontier-knowledge elites, the elites of the technological and the digital revolutions, are the undisputable custodians of strategic and economic power. Today, our post-colonial national revenue generation model of an oil-export-only economy has been clearly shown to be unsustainable in the 21st Century. The obvious solution, as experts have pointed-out is to diversify the productive base of our national economy and urgently train and re-train our national workforce technologically and digitally. This solution is, as can be easily seen, an undeniable integral programme of the central ‘CHANGE’ policy and mantra of the incumbent administration of President Buhari.”