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We can’t grow by importing all ICT products—Minister

Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwukah, has said that Nigeria may not attain the desired height in national development and knowledge-based economy if we as a nation continue to import everything we need in the ICT sector.

Accordingly, he called on original Equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to work at producing or assembling in Nigeria rather than expect the nation to patronise their finished products and continue to pay salaries of workers in China and other producing nations.

Anwukah gave the charge in his remarks at the presentation of outstanding students of the Federal Science and Technical College (FSTC) Yaba, Lagos to him in Abuja.

The students presented were those who had won awards as trainees of the Cisco Networking Academy Programme in FSTC Yaba.

The students are part of the 16,000 Federal Unity College students who have been trained in Cisco programmes, and have won awards both at international and Africa regional levels. They also made various presentations to the minister and directors of the ministry present.

The minister, who commended the students for their outstanding performances, and the school for grooming such excellent students, added that it was important for Nigeria to begin to think out of the box by not being a consumer of technology only, but by attracting technology companies to manufacture in the country so that young brilliant minds such as the students can have employment placements in future.

According to the Minister, “They thought we had a lot of oil money. So the rest of the world wants us to buy from them. But the oil money is no longer there. We need to think out of the box. Nigeria’s ICT market is 65 per cent of what is obtainable in Africa. What we need is not finished products, but they should manufacture here. The least they can do is to assemble here, to provide employment opportunities and hands-on experience for Nigerians”.

Earlier in his speech, Director and Principal of the school, Rev. Chris Ugorji said FSTC Yaba has always participated in global competitions and programmes organized for institutions under the Federal Ministry of Education in order to train the students to acquire relevant knowledge and skills necessary for national development and global competitiveness.

Ugorji noted that the College emerged first and second consecutively in Nigeria, in the Cisco Netriders ICT Africa competition which was organized for all institutions including tertiary institutions across Africa. Awards won by students of the school include Top Achievement Certificate from CISCO International. The school came first in Nigeria, West Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa; and fourth in the whole of Africa.

He said “FSTC Yaba also received recognition award as the Best CISCO Networking Academy with the highest number of students graduated in West and Central Africa at the just concluded 2016 ASC UNITES CISCO. Our Lead Instructor, Miss Christine Ekezie emerged the Best Instructor, received awards and was nominated to attend the CISCO Summit in Germany later this year with all bills paid”, the principal said.

Head Girl of the school, Oluchi Nwachukwu, who participated in the 2016 African Future Trust model United Nations (TAFMUN) programme, got seven out of the nine awards, thereby emerging the overall first. Nwachukwu is billed to attend the International Conference in New York in March 2017.