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NITDA pumps in N752.5m annually on ICT scholarships to deepen human dev

Indication has emerged that some of the key issues relating to weak human capacity development raised by Bill Gates may have been taken care of by the scholarship policy of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

This is based on the revelation by the agency that it spends about N752.5m annually on scholarships for postgraduate Information Communication Technology students.

The US billionaire and founder of Microsoft had told Nigerian government officials that the ongoing EGRP implementation is technically faulty at the backend as human resources development is not well structured in the policy.

In a statement issued by the Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations Unit, Hadiza Umar, the agency noted that the scholarship programme was for masters and doctoral students who had distinguished and proved themselves worthy of the scholarship.

“Each Nigerian scholar studying abroad received an average package of N17.5m per annum, while in-country scholars received an average of N3.5m for tuition, personal allowance accommodation, living expenses and other allowances.

“In line with the agency’s mandate of developing and regulating the information technology in Nigeria this year, it was awarding scholarships to 92 master’s and doctoral students in relevant areas of the ICT and the ICT law.

Umar stated that the scholarship scheme was established in 2010 with the aim of bridging the digital divide through human capital development, with emphasis on creating and supporting a knowledge-based economy.

According to NITDA, two scholars were selected per state, including the Federal Capital Territory, at the master’s Level, and one scholar per geo-political zone of the country at doctoral level.

Even before the outburst of Bill Gates at the recently held expanded National Economic Council meeting in Abuja, NITDA had been assessing and addressing the ICT skill requirements to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s sustainable economic growth and development strides through the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, the scheme was expanded this year to cover diverse areas including the LLM in ICT law.

The statement quoted the Director, Human Resource and Administration, NITDA, Dr. Idris Yelwa, as saying that a total of 5,504 candidates applied in this academic year, out of which 2,188 sat for the computer-based aptitude test.

According to him, the final interview was designed to assess candidates’ academic merit and exceptional character traits that would enable them to maintain highest level of ethical values, discipline, dedication to studies and be worthy ambassadors of the country.

He said “From inception of the scheme to date, the agency has successfully sponsored 341 Nigerian graduates in various ICT fields at the master’s level and 42 for doctorate level at universities in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Germany and Australia”.

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