Business Hilights
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ATCON boss, Teniola advises FG on how to establish ICT Varsity

More Information and Communications Technology (ICT) experts have continued to look at the recent pronouncement of the Federal Government to establish a national ICT University.

This is coming on the heels of the provision of about N166.6 million in the 2017 budget for the establishment of the ICT University and N70 million to create a technology park in Abuja to deepen knowledge and application of  ICT through the Ministry of Communications.

In an exclusive interview Sunday, the president of Association of telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Engineer Olusola Teniola said “If the actual amount for the takeoff of a national ICT University in the budget is N166.6m, it then mean that something is wrong somewhere because the amount cannot do much”.

While welcoming the idea, he noted that “If the new university is going to leverage on the existing infrastructure at the six campuses of the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), the fund is good for a start but more will be needed going forward”.

He said the idea will help grow several technical fields of ICT that are currently lacking in many Nigerian universities offering ICT courses, stressing that “For the fact the industry is doing well in Nigeria, we need an ICT University that will compete with such specialised institutions abroad”.

“Yes we have universities offering ICT courses, many of them are not designed to solve some of the new challenges in the industry and that is why we need a specialized university in Nigeria. There is a good one in the United States and its doing well,” Teniola added.

Details from the 2017 budget proposal show that the Ministry of Communications will be spending N7.5 billion on various ICT projects out of the N18.7 billion allocated to it.

Whereas the emerging ICT University will gulp about N166.6 depending on what the National Assembly will either cut or add, the government said it will be spending N320 million on establishments of government’s ICT computer/devices repairs and assembly centre.

According to the budget breakdown, other projects to be implemented by the ministry in 2017 include construction and equipping of  ICT centres in Otukpo, Benue State and Yola in Adamawa state, each of which would gulp N70 million. Similarly, an ICT statistical office is to be established at the cost of N8.5 million.

Business Hilights recalls that the Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu had given an assurance that the ICT University would be up and running before the middle of this year.

He said “By the grace of God, in the next three to six months, we should have established in Nigeria an ICT university which will be first of its kind in Africa”.

“This is with the sole purpose of providing training environment and training facilities to make the industry have enough skilled manpower in various sub sectors of the ICT sector. I am happy to say that we already have what is called the Digital Bridge Institute which is for short term training programmes in six locations across the country and we hope to transform this institute into the ICT University of Nigeria.

“I am already talking to a lot of operators at the international level, Facebook, Motorola, Ericson, all of them. We are encouraging them to come and adopt the university campuses as their own. In his further explanation, Shittu said many of the international ICT groups would be encouraged to buy into the deal by way of bringing in faculties and logistics to assist in training Nigerians. He was upbeat that an ICT University will help in the churning out of needed experts to deepen the consolidation of the industry in Nigeria and beyond.