Prof. Cleopas Angaye, is the director-general and chief executive officer, National Information Technology Development Agency (Nitda), a world class IT Agency totally committed to the transformation of Nigeria into an IT driven economy for global competitiveness through a faithful and creative implementation of an IT policy for Nigeria.With over 33 years of software development, 10 years of industry experience in USQA and more than 7 years of IT administration; Angaye is a leading light in ICT development in Africa. He has worked in various capacities as a senior systems analyst and programmer, senior research scientist among others, in various organizations. Angaye spoke on sundry issue in the industry.
Nigeria and IT Development
IT drives economy globally both in advanced, developing and under developed countries. Two years ago when I looked at the rating of Nigeria relative to other countries, we were in 151st position. But happily this year, Nigeria has moved up to 95th position. Then if we go a little bit backwards, about ten to fifteen years ago because of the liberalization of telecommunications sector where people can use free marketing and so on, the drive to actually do certain things on IT has improved. Right now, Nigerians are very conscious of the power of IT. The most interesting thing in IT is that it is distant invariant in the sense that you can sit here and do almost everything, from marketing, tourism, doing research, all sorts of things. And Nigeria is actually improving very fast in that area, even though there is still that digital divide between the urban, rural, and semi-urban areas. But we in Nitda are trying to see how we can narrow that gap. Rightly, in Nigeria we are actually developing with the available infrastructure.
Illiteracy and Effect on Development of IT
It does, but the internet facilities have so improved that we can equally write computer languages in our native language. Back in 2005/2006, I was coming up with a very good initiative, trying to provide IT in our native languages such as Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba, the three widely spoken Nigerian languages. I want to look at what we call in computer language, a compiler or assembler that can actually translate whatever we say in computer language into our languages. It will be very useful especially in driving areas like HIV and agriculture especially in Nigeria where there is a lot of farming. We can now produce computer assisted program like weather forecast to tell farmers when to farm, the best crops they can plant in an area, and how to do their irrigation systems. When people see that they can derive these benefits from using computers, there will be a lot of improvement. The Chinese, for instance, don’t speak English like us, but there are computers that use Chinese language. When I was in the US, anytime we develop a program/software in English, there are Chinese people there who translate it to parallel Chinese language and take it to their country. That is what I believe we should do. With the use of our native languages, our youths that are growing up (9 – 12 years) will appreciate the power of usefulness of electronics in our system. They will also appreciate e-government, where you can now bring government services closer to the people.
Nitda and Regulation of IT Sector
We are still providing standards and regulatory framework. If we go back to 2004, Nitda actually submitted a bill to the National Assembly which deals with cyber crime. There are lots of people who try to do cyber crime and spamming. Spam is a technique where you always receive unnecessary mails in your e-mail. We were not lucky enough, because that bill didn’t pass through. Currently, the spam mails are increasing. I am just trying to let you know some of the efforts Nitda has made. We also submitted a bill on IT. When I came on board in 2005, that bill was reinstated. Recently we partnered with Central Bank of Nigeria and we are sending a bill on e-transaction. You know that if you commit a crime through internet or electronic device, computer print outs are not tenable in court for now, because we don’t have that law already passed in the National Assembly. So, the e-transaction virtually covers all the areas that if you commit an offence via electronic means you are liable to be convicted. In January this year, we also discussed network security with our stakeholders – CBN, NCC, Ministry of Information and Communication, private and public sectors. And it is important, because any computer you use to log into the internet there is a unique address called IP address. IP address is unique, and can be tracked down from anywhere. That is why when there are cyber crimes; they can locate its origin. So we are discussing how we can actually inhibit cyber crimes, and bring cyber criminals to book. Those guidelines are still being reviewed by stakeholders. So apart from network security, Cyber Crimes Bill, Nitda Bill, we are also looking at other areas of IT guidelines, so as to also incorporate them into establishing standards and guidelines for the country.
IT Infrastructure in Nigeria and Other Countries
Compared to countries like US, UK, Germany and so on, we may not be well developed. But in terms of developing countries, in Africa and Asia, we are coming up. We may not be as good as countries like South Africa. The government is trying a lot especially in the power sector. Most of the areas of infrastructure we need are in the rural areas. And you may know that some of those areas don’t have constant power, so getting internet access is very difficult especially in the areas where we also have creeks, thick vegetation and so on. However, the provision of VSAT and other facilities have made it possible to get to some areas. We have an initiative which we call Rural Internet Information Technology Centres (RIITC), we have developed over 50. In 2008, we had 10 in the country, last year we developed 11, this year we have got over 40, in the Northern and Southern part of the country. What we do is, we provide VSAT, computers, printers, photocopiers, so those centres located in the rural areas are more or less mini computer centres, where people in the community can access the internet. The program is community-based, so Nigerians who are on holidays can go there to check their results, can do e-learning and so on because each of the system has well equipped e-learning facilities. You know we have 774 Local Government Areas, LGAs, and we haven’t been able to cover all of them, but the few we have covered are very useful to those communities. We are still doing that and most of the LGAs where they have been situated have cooperated very well.
Strategic Alliance with the Private Sector and Some International Organisations
We have alliance with some countries, for instance we have with United Nation University (UNU) in China. What we have is on e-government which is very useful in the sense that it means you use IT facilities to bring government nearer to the people. So, wherever you are, if you want to fill a form for instance, you can do it electronically. If you want to submit your visa application, you need not come to the city to do it. You fill, and then they give you appointment to come to the urban area. For instance, for United States’ visa, you have to do everything online, so e-government encourages good practices and so on. We also have an alliance with a university in South Korea, and more than 10 of our students are studying there. Some have come back with Masters, others are doing their doctorate degree in their University because of that alliance and exchange programme. We also have an alliance with the Korean government; back in 2006/2007 they donated $500,000.00 worth of computer equipment for Nigeria through the program. Those computers are located at ETC, – a company we have an MoU with for training. It is our outfit for training staff and public servants. We are also talking to Oracle, one of the best database systems companies in the world for us to have an alliance so that when they bring their systems here it can be subsidized, they can also sponsor our people and so on. Nigeria has had a strategic alliance with Microsoft since 2003, when we had a 3-years software agreement with them. This gave us the benefit of using Microsoft software like windows, power point, etc. The first agreement we had in 2003 had no operating systems. Now, when it expired in 2006, after reviewing what we had done with the first three years, we renewed it and now included operating system. In fact, Nitda supervises that agreement so any government organization that needs software, we have all Microsoft softwares. Through that relationship, we have also had some funding to execute some of our programs. They gave us some money and we used it to start training programs in the country.
Nitda and Authentication
Nitda actually authenticates original equipment and computer manufacturers and assemblers in the country like Zinox, Omatek, Speedstar. That authentication means that we have looked at these companies and said they are assembling good computers and any government agency that wants computers can buy from any of them. Through that alliance, in 2006, we came out with a programme which is called CANI-Computer for all Nigerians Initiative, where we wanted to pump half a million computers into the Nigerian system. The basic objective of that initiative is to make computer affordable for Civil Servants. Civil servants use computers in their offices, but when they go back home, they don’t have access to computers. Through that programme we collaborated with Microsoft, Intel, and some banks. Microsoft provides the softwares for the computers, Intel is the hardware producer. The objective is to bring the cost of computers down and that was why we brought in financial institutions. We want to make long term payment facility available to beneficiaries because most of our people do not have money. The idea was to spread payment for the computers across 24 months without interest. The scheme was available to core civil servants and the government made a lot of money available to support it and it ran for two years. When NITDA governing board came in, they reviewed our projects and commended it. We are trying to resuscitate that particular programme to provide computers because we also have a programme, “Catch Them Young”, which we also started in 2007. It is all about, if you go to advanced countries, most of the boys who are now gurus in computer programming start at a tender age. Even your children, if you put them in front of a computer, don’t teach them, they will explore and know better than you. If there is anything spoilt, they will correct it, because these things you use your brain to do it and that is why it is called knowledge economy. They are very innovative, so we believe that children of 9 – 12 years should be made computer literate. We launched the first programme in Kaduna State. We have now trained 100 students, and they were taken from local primary schools and gathered together to launch the programme. We make computers available to them the first day. The second day was interesting as most of them came with their parents and because we had graphics and computer games, we allowed them to play with it. After that, they had lectures on sending mail, talking to other kids etc. It was a very exciting programme, we also told their parents that instead of buying a television, buy a computer, because you can use it for lots of things. We also launched one at Edo State. The personal experience was that after teaching them for a week, where do we go from there? Because these students need computers to take them forward, because if you teach them for a certain period and they go without a working tool, it doesn’t make sense. So, we are planning how we can get fairly good computer systems for them. “Catch Them Young” programme is still alive because we want to make computers available, any state we go, after training them, we give them laptops. Let them explore, and we are doing this to create computer awareness, which is one of the crucial things that can take this country forwa
CBN Pulls Rate Cut Trigger, King Dollar Returns
By Lukman Otunuga, Senior Research Analyst at FXTM,
In a move that caught investors off-guard this week, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) slashed interest rates by 100 basis points bringing the MPR to 11.5%. Given how inflation has been above target since 2015, rates were expected to remain unchanged for the rest of 2020 and possibly early 2021.
The question on the mind of many is whether the rate cut will achieve the desired effect by stimulating consumption and economic growth? Ongoing border closures and disruptions created by COVID-19 have pushed inflation to levels not seen since March 2018 above 13.20% while a drop in the production and price of Oil continues to rub salt into the wound. While looser monetary policy could support growth, it may come at the cost of rising inflation and weaker Naira.
Over the past few months, central banks across the globe have deployed unprecedented measures to defend their respective economies against the coronavirus menace. However, fiscal policy has been identified as the sharper tool with governments across the world providing a critical lifeline to keep the wheels of their respective economies rolling.
Outside of Nigeria, King Dollar made a return by appreciating against every single G10 currency. In times of uncertainty, everyone wants a juicy piece of the world’s most liquid currency. As coronavirus cases rise in Europe and other parts of the world, the flight to safety is likely to boost appetite for the Dollar. This is bad news for many emerging markets currencies, especially those with high Dollar-denominated debt.
On the commodity side, Oil prices remain heavily influenced by demand-side factors and the state of the global economy. Prices are likely to remain stuck around the $40 regions in the near term, especially If another round of possible lockdowns hit Oil demand. Looking at the technicals, WTI Crude is under pressure on the daily charts. If prices are unable to break away from the sticky $40 regions, the next key point of interest remains around $38. A weekly close above $41.50 could pave a path towards $43.
NCC Arrests Man for Hacking into DSTV System
Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC), has arrested one Mr Aliu Olalekan, for allegedly hacking into DSTV system and watching the channels free without subscription.
Mr Matthew Ojo, NCC Director in the Lagos Directorate Office said this while speaking with newsmen in Lagos, on Tuesday.
He said that the suspect used to watch DSTV channels free without subscription on his Android phone via an app which he downloaded on google play store.
“This suspect distributed the know-how to his telegram followers and on his blog with the aim of gaining more followers and viewership on his blog and makes more money through google ad-sense.
“The operation was based on surveillance which had earlier been carried out by the Multi-choice team and verified by a copyright inspector, ” he said.
He added that the arrest was made in collaboration with a team of copyright inspectors led by the Head of Enforcement Department, Mr Charles Amudipe.
Others included; a team from Multichoice Nigeria led by Mr Umar Ibrahim and policemen from Lagos Command Headquarters, Ikeja.
Ojo said that the joint team conducted an anti-piracy operation at the premises of the culprit in Amukoko, Lagos.
According to him, the suspect was contacted on phone by a member of the operation team on the disguise of patronising him. “The suspect came out to meet the caller and in the process of discussion, he was apprehended.
“The suspect took the team to his resident. The squad paraded his one-room apartment and recovered his laptop and phones used in perpetrating the ungodly act. “He was arrested and brought to the copyright commission office for further investigation, ” he said.
Ojo said that, on getting to the commission’s office, the statement of the suspect was taken and the inventory of items seized from him taken. He said that investigation on the matter was still ongoing and if found guilty the suspect will be charged to court.
NCC, Digital Encode Support NITRA Innovative Tech Forum On Post-COVID-19 Strategies
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator and Digital Encode, Cybersecurity and Compliance advisory company, have indicated interest to partner with the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA), the national umbrella body of ICT reporters, as it organizes a forum that will x-ray the industry’s future plans for ICT growth post pandemic era.
The event, slated to hold on October 15, 2020, will seek to discuss the needs for a fortified ICT sector after the COVID-19 era, and the level of preparedness of ICT stakeholders to embrace the challenge of being pivotal to the stability and growth of all other sectors.
A statement from NITRA National Secretariat in Lagos indicates that due to the pandemic and need to observe the COVID-19 protocol on social distancing, the event will be held via a Webinar.
This year’s theme, “Multi-stakeholder Approach To National Recovery Post-Pandemic”, is in line with the annual event’s generic theme, ‘NITRA Innovative Tech Forum’, a contribution by NITRA to the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) innovations and policies in Nigeria.
Prof. Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, NCC is expected to deliver the keynote speech at the event and will throw more light on Federal Government’s plans, programmes and policies on post-pandemic strategies using ICT.
Dr. Adewale Obadare and Dr. Seyi Akindeinde, founders of Digital Encode, while accepting to support the event expressed their readiness to offer their expertise in Cybersecurity for organisations to prepare against cyber- attacks with the new normal.
They will also highlight areas that are high risks that need fortification in terms of cybersecurity.
Speaking on the event, Mr. Chike Onwuegbuchi, national chairman, NITRA, noted that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to leave its negative trails across the globe, economic reboot for countries will not only depend on how well they readapt to the new normal, but also more on their recovery plans.
According to him: “While the federal government has consistently expressed its willingness to set all policies in place to engender growth, and accelerated implementation of these policies, private sector firms have also shown great hunger for the task ahead in post-COVID-19 era.
However, the question that needs to be answered is whether all stakeholders are ready for the required task ahead.”
The event will also offer participating companies opportunities to publicize some of their individual efforts at contributing to reacting a soft landing or lifeline for SMEs and other ancillary companies as the pandemic threatens their survival.
Digital Encode is a multi-award winning and leading consulting and integration firm that specializes in the design, management, and security of business-critical networks, telecommunications environments and other Information Technology (IT) infrastructures.
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