By SAMSON AKINTARO
The Federal Government has said it is poised to achieve equal and fast growth of ICT across the 36 states of the federation, hence, the development of policies for the states. The Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu, who disclosed this, said government through the Ministry has already developed ICT policies for over 13 states to foster growth.
According to the Minister, the government has recognized ICTs as one of the key drivers of the economy, thus, it has been factored in all national long-term development blue-prints that aim at transforming Nigeria into a knowledge economy by 2020. “We have developed a National ICT strategic Roadmap whose aim is to provide a systematic approach to harnessing the power of ICTs across all sectors of the economy” he added.
To foster use of technology in the country, especially, in provision of government services to the people, Shittu said the government was working towards having at least 80 per cent of all public services provided through digital platforms by 2018, adding that at the moment, a good number of key services leverage on ICTs for their delivery.
Along that line, the Minister said said efforts are on to expand the number of Data Centres in the country as part of government’s plan to expand its presence on a digital platform, 1-gov.net. The platform, apart from consolidating existing government ICT infrastructure, also enables MDAs to exchange data in a seamless manner while allowing each other to remain independent and maintain its privacy and the security of its operatives.
The minister said through the 1-gov.net, government has become more participative and accessible where citizens can participate in policy process through discussions, suggestions and online-polls. “Various Government Departments are using this platform for seeking inputs on a wide range of issues. Using the 1-gov.net Platform, Government has been able to save 30 per cent of what it would have expended on a unit per unit cost.
As at date 90 per cent of all MDAs within Abuja are linked with fiber backbone and 3,500 locations of different MDAs have been touched across the country. About 270 MDAs websites and applications are being hosted on the network, adding that “government has recorded success in 1-gov.net, we now focus on some services that have direct bearing on the present administration’s priorities, and we determined to continue with the shared ICT infrastructure and services initiative in the MDAs.
The 1-gov.net is promoting Whole-of-Government approaches in the information Age based on shared services. This approach will enhance productivity of government officials, increase experience of patrons of government services, enhance security and drive out the menace of corruption.”
He said the government recognizes the urgent need to increase efficiency and transparency, improve and align processes, smart government and smart cities, attract new investors, bridge the digital divide, transform government transaction services, data-driven government, better access to and management of information, thereby enhancing citizen satisfaction and trust, meeting the needs of rapidly changing demographics and balancing costs while optimizing efficiency.
According to him, digital government is a vision statement that seeks to bring about citizen empowerment by harnessing the potentials of ICTs as well as seeking to transform government into digitally empowered society and knowledge economy in a manner that government is available on the palm of every citizen, where – The Government is open and the Governance Transparent.
Digital Government, he said, does not comprise the digital architecture alone, but it encompasses digital delivery of citizen-centric services, and ultimately, digital empowerment of the people.
He said, “Internet users in Nigeria have crossed 90 million. The mobile users have also crossed 156million mark.
The smart phone users are more than 60 million. Today, from booking of train tickets to payment of fees and taxes, from post office and banking transactions to issue of digital documents, online registrations to online applications and e-services, Digital Revolution is seen everywhere and touches almost every aspect of life of a common citizen.
Shittu disclosed that government is investing in shared ICT Infrastructure to secure the benefits of lower cost, increased security, increased innovation and faster service delivery, adding that government is supporting the development and sustenance of ICT applications that are driving cost effectiveness and transparency in Government Service Delivery.
He added that applications supporting the Treasury Single Accounts (TSA), IPPIS, Budget Portal and BVN verifications among others are already resulting in huge savings. The Ministry of Communications, he said, has expanded the Open Government Data Portal which is a part of the Federal Government Open Data Initiative, stressing that many civil servants have been trained across MDAs on the use of the portal.