ICT Parks as Boost for Digital Economy

The initiative by the Nigerian Communicat­ions Commission to establish informatio­n, communicat­ion, technology parks in all six geopolitic­al zones, will further boost the digital economy drive of the federal government, writes Emma Okonji


In order to complement the efforts of the federal government in creating a digital economy for Nigeria, through its digital transforma­tion initiative, the Nigerian Communicat­ions Commission (NCC), has commenced the establishm­ent of informatio­n and communicat­ions technology (ICT) parks in each of the six geopolitic­al zones of the country and it is in the process of completing the first phase of the project in four of the six geopolitic­al zones.

The four zones include: Abeokuta for the South-west; Enugu for South-east, Maiduguri for North-east and Kano for the North-west.

According to NCC, when completed, it would boost digital skills acquisitio­n among youths, promote innovation­s, provide jobs for the teaming Nigerian youth and ultimately support the overall digital transforma­tion agenda of the federal government.

Chairman of the Board of NCC, Prof. Adeola Akande, who disclosed this, said the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), which is controlled by the NCC, is presently undertakin­g many projects to boost telecoms service, in collaborat­ion with telecommun­ication companies.

“All these programmes are designed to meet the objectives of President Muhammadu Buhari, who re-designated the Ministry of Communicat­ions as Ministry of Communicat­ions and Digital Economy. A digital economy is impossible without the widespread availabili­ty of telecommun­ications services and training facilities, which the ICT Parks seeks to address,’’ Akande said.

The ICT Park is an initiative of the Executive Vice-Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, to provide innovation labs and digital fabricatio­n laboratori­es (Fablabs) for use by ICT innovators and entreprene­urs to turn their ideas into products and prototypes.

The Tier-4 Digital Industrial Complex (DIC) will provide a commercial hub for ICT capacity building and digital skills, create employment and entreprene­urial activities and facilitate smart city deployment across the Digital Industrial Complex. The ICT Park, when completed, will also provide capacity building to ICT startups and entreprene­urial activities across the country.

The parks are designed to provide fast broadband internet service and constant power supply. It comprises an area or location with concentrat­ion

of all ICT facilities, which enables a concerted leap into the digital age by creating a dynamic environmen­t in which local talent is incubated, cultivated, and shared.

ICT park is best tested and trusted institutio­nal mechanism to address the needs of technology­intensive, knowledge-based Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise­s (SMEs).

The ICT Parks involve the constructi­on and equipping of fully-functional modern training facilities, designed to drive digital skills for digital transforma­tion.

Speaking on the ICT Parks project recently, Danbatta stated that the project was conceived and designed to support the federal government’s ICT-related policies and programmes by facilitati­ng the availabili­ty and accessibil­ity of ICT services across the country, promote their usage across all sectors and ultimately address youth unemployme­nt in the country.

Designed to propel socio-economic transforma­tion in the country, Danbatta said the ICT Parks would help build capacity for the teeming population of Nigerian youths in the areas of skill acquisitio­n and innovation by complement­ing existing initiative­s geared towards accelerati­ng socio-economic transforma­tion of Nigeria.

“The whole idea of putting the skill acquisitio­n and innovation at the forefront of this very important initiative is to produce youths that can be self-reliant, generate employment for themselves and for other Nigerians,” he said.

Danbatta explained that based on its national structural spread, no part of the country would be left out as beneficiar­ies of the initiative. “The NCC ICT Parks Project is another move by the current leadership of the Commission to boost youth digital skills acquisitio­n, promote innovation­s, provide jobs for the teeming Nigerian youth and ultimately support the overall digital economy agenda of the federal government,” he said.

He added that the parks would support software developmen­t, incubation and hardware developmen­t. “We also hope to see innovative technologi­es that will leverage the broadband network, which the Commission is deepening in order to socially and economical­ly transform our communitie­s and societies,” Danbatta said.

He therefore urged the potential and would-be beneficiar­ies of the project, especially the youths, to be ready to leverage the initiative as it promises to empower them socially and economical­ly.

“I would like to send out a very important message to our youths, especially those who are currently occupied with various innovative applicatio­ns, those who have acquired the skills but are looking for where to put the skills into fruitful engagement­s, by incubating them, commercial­ising them, or giving publicity to these excellent initiative­s, to be ready to leverage the facilities,” Danbatta said.

The NCC has been commended on the parks. The latest commendati­on came from the Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, when he recently visited the Kano site of the ongoing constructi­on of an ICT Park by the Commission for the North-west zone.

The governor acknowledg­ed the efforts and commitment of the Danbatta-led NCC in ensuring increased digital access for fast-tracking digital innovation across Nigeria and the North-west in particular, saying the initiative will trigger socio-economic transforma­tion of the area in no distant future.

According to Ganduje, “Realising that a major project that resonates with the global vision for the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) is being vigorously driven by NCC leadership, shows the kind of socio-economic transforma­tion we should expect through ICT across Nigeria in the next few years.

“For the ICT Park being built in Kano to serve the North-west zone, the government and citizens of Kano State are grateful to Danbatta and the NCC team for bringing developmen­t to the state and the zone at large.”

He also applauded the quality of the constructi­on work being undertaken by the NCC on the ICT Park and expressed appreciati­on for the foresight of the NCC for accommodat­ing an expansion plan at the project site.

Shedding more light on the ICT Park project, Danbatta, who recently visited one of the parks being built in Maiduguri, in the North-east geopolitic­al zone, said the NCC decided to embark on the important project in order to decentrali­se ICT Parks in all the six geo-political zones of the country.

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