Nigeria’s independent telecoms regulatory authority, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has embarked on the building of six Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Parks to promote socio-economic transformation of Nigeria.
The ICT Parks are to provide Innovation Labs and Digital Fabrication Laboratories (Fablabs) for use by ICT innovators and entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into products and prototypes; provide a Commercial Hub for ICT capacity building and digital skills; create employment and entrepreneurial activities; and facilitate smart city deployment across the Digital Industrial complex.
An initiative of the current leadership of NCC, the ICT Parks Project involves the construction and equipping of fully-functional Tier-4 Digital Industrial Complex (DIC) in each of the six geo-political zones across the country.
The project concept is designed to support Federal Government’s ICT–related policies by facilitating the availability and accessibility of ICT services across the country and promoting their usage across all sectors.
The ICT Park consists of laboratories for ICT innovations and Commercial Hubs providing capacity building to ICT startups and entrepreneurial activities. The Parks are designed to have fast internet service (broadband) and constant power supply.
Commenting on the initiative at the weekend, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the Commission embarked on the project in all the six geo-political zones of the country with a view to building capacity for the Nigerian teaming youths in the area of skill acquisition and innovation to join existing initiatives towards accelerating socio-economic transformation of Nigeria.
“The whole idea of putting these two things (i.e. skill acquisition and innovation) at the forefront of this very important initiative is to produce youths that can be self-reliant, generate employment for themselves and for other Nigerians,” he said.
The Commission is starting the project with four ICT parks in Abeokuta for the South-West; Enugu for the South-East; Maiduguri for the North-East and Kano for the North-West, all of which are currently at different levels of implementation while the ones for North-Central and South-South are in the offing.
Danbatta, who stated that the project commissioning would take place at different times, possibly starting from end of this year, assured that, based on its national spread structure, no part of the country will be left out as beneficiaries of the initiative.
“The NCC ICT Parks Project is another move by the current leadership of the Commission to boost youth digital skills acquisition, promote innovations, provide jobs for the teaming Nigerian youths and ultimately support the overall digital economy agenda of the Federal Government,” Danbatta said.
Speaking on the expected tech products to be produced from the ICT Parks, Danbatta said: “Going forward, we hope to see software development, incubation and hardware development coming out from the ICT Parks. We also hope to see innovative applications that will leverage the broadband network, which the Commission is deepening in order to socially and economically transform our communities and societies.”
Danbatta urged the potential and would-be beneficiaries of the project, especially the youths to be ready to leverage the initiative, once ready, to empower themselves socially and economically.
“I would like to send out a very important message to our youths, especially those who are currently occupied with various innovative applications and those who have acquired the skills but are looking for where to put the skills to fruitful engagements, by incubating them, commercialising them, or giving publicity to these excellent initiatives, to be ready to leverage these facilities,” he stated.
The EVC added that there is going to be a centre in the ICT Parks to showcase the various initiatives by the youths in areas of apps, various software products developed and other innovations not only to local investors but also to the global investment community.
An ICT park comprises an area or location with concentration of ICT facilities which enable a concerted leap into the digital age by creating a dynamic environment in which local talent is incubated, cultivated, and shared. ICT parks are best tested and trusted institutional mechanisms to address the needs of technology-intensive, knowledge-based Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).