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Technology, a potent change agent - NITDA boss

The Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), has described technology as a powerful catalyst for change that brings people closer, making the society more efficient, and promoting a more sustainable world.

The NITDA boss, who doubles as the Chief Information Technology Officer (CITO) of Nigeria, stated this last Tuesday (January 29, 2018) in a keynote address he delivered at the First National Conference on sustainable special education in Nigeria organised by the Faculty of Communication and Information Sciences, University of Ilorin.

Speaking on the conference theme, “Information and Communication Technology: Drivers of Sustainable Special Education”, Dr. Ibrahim noted that the spread of information and communication technology and global interconnectedness has great potential to accelerate human progress to bridge the digital divide and to develop knowledge societies.

According to him, “Technology empowers and enriches people's life, through products, solutions, and programmes that embrace innovation and shared values”.

The NITDA Director-General submitted that education is a fundamental right and is indispensable for the achievement of sustainable development, arguing that for education to create positive change, it must be inclusive and of high quality.

Dr. Ibrahim, who was represented by Dr. Abubakar Dairu Abubakar, pointed out that ICT for sustainable development represents a catalytic process for social change that seeks to foster through education training and public awareness for a sustainable future.

He defined sustainable development is the ability of the economy to support the needs of the people of a country over time, taking into consideration the economic, social and ecological constraints of the country.

Dr. Ibrahim reminded participants that NITDA was established in April 2001 to implement the Nigerian Information Technology Policy and coordinate General IT development in the country.

He explained further that the agency was mandated by the National Information Technology Development Act (2007) to create a framework for the planning, research, development, standardization, application, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of Information Technology practices, activities and systems in Nigeria.

“NITDA supports initiatives in developing programmes to build the necessary physical infrastructure, strengthen cyber security, develop digital skills for youth and others, improve digital inclusion for people, enhance the regulatory and market environment to increase access to ICTs, and promote ICT-centred innovation and entrepreneurship”, he disclosed.

On the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, (GCFR), the NITDA boss said that the Digital Inclusion ensures that disadvantaged groups are given access and skills required to enjoy the benefits of the information age.

He said, “At NITDA, we have specialized ICT Training for People Living with Disabilities (PLWDs) as a means of building their capacity to make them self-reliant. Participants are selected by team of experts from the academia, civil society, representative associations of the PLWDs and the NITDA team.”

In his recommendation, Dr. Ibrahim stressed the need to start implementing new teaching methodologies that facilitate the development of the skills required to fully participate in a highly globalised digital world.

The NITDA boss also said that ICT-based interventions must take into account current institutional practices and arrangements, stressing that drivers and barriers to ICT use need to be identified, including those related to curriculum and pedagogy, infrastructure, capacity-building, language and content as well as financing.

“More than ever, capacity building and education are pivotal to support our digital agenda and to contribute to socio-economic growth. Investing in ICT and education is a prerequisite to invest in the future”, he concluded.

The conference, chaired by the Chief of Staff to Oyo State Governor, Dr. Gbade Ojo, also had in attendance Principal Officers of the University of Ilorin, the United Nations Project Manager, Mrs. Lidwen Meffo and Mrs. Magna Faith; a media expert and community advocate among others.