Tech Trends (Channels TV)

Nigeria Should Grow IT Knowledge Parks For Sustainability And Development Of The Country; Chris Uwaje

As established in the information technology policy, Information technology is the bedrock for national survival and development, in a rapidly changing environment, which challenges, also device bold and courageous initiatives, to address the host of vital socio-economic issues, such as reliable infrastructures, skilled human resources, open government and other issues of essential capacity building.

I recently, had a chat with Chris Uwaje, Past President of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria, ISPON, and also, one of the pioneers of Nigeria’s Information Technology policy and have been at the forefront of ensuring that Nigeria truly leverages on technology, to speed up her development. He shed light on what he and his colleagues were driving at, when they were developing the first Information Technology policy for Nigeria, how it as panned out and other issues pertaining to the ecosystem, on Tech Trends show, on Channels Television.

CFA: What were you and your colleagues hoping to achieve, when you were developing Nigeria’s first Information Technology Policy for Nigeria and how has it panned out?

Chris: We were looking at knowledge parks, like we saw in Singapore, like we saw in Ireland, like it exists in Silicon Valley, for Nigeria. We were looking for an ecosystem of about 10,000 Nigerian bright minds, doing stuff in IT. I have not seen it. I’ve not seen it. It doesn’t happen here.

When compared to what India is doing, I wept for the country, when we went to Infosys, where you had 100,000 people with 85,000 residents in campus doing IT, with 25,000 people, doing software alone. You can compare that vision, with what we have.

Up till now, our companies cannot compete globally because, we are too mushroom. We are too small. The largest company, that, we have, used to be CSA, with 165 programmers and now, we have, probably, SystemSpecs, with close to 400. That doesn’t resonate into the scale of what is happening all over the world.
I think it is because of this ignorance and of course, the link, the gap of understanding the benefit of what Information Technology can bring to the survivability and development of the country. That is the gap and that gap resides at government quarters. All over the world, every government is pushing, is promoting, is sustaining, is protecting the IT ecosystem because, at the end of the day, from research to deployment, is about human needs, it’s about human beings. What can the human beings say. If you don’t believe that Nigerians can do it, then, automatically, that is probably why you are not supporting it, but really, Nigerians can do stuff as it has been proven elsewhere. The short-change, is that, all what Nigerians are doing from Andela etc., we don’t own the IP. Other people own the intellectual property of our country and that is very worrisome.

CFA: What would you recommend as our National IT Agenda, going forward?

Chris: Nigeria has to restructure the digital ecosystem, as the most important aspect for the survivability of the country. It comes from governance. There has to be, not just a Ministry of Communication. When we drafted, we drafted the concept for establishing a Ministry of Information Technology. When I say, we, I mean, CPN, ISPON and NCF, okay…………….

You can watch the full interview here