COMMUNIQUE OF THE 27TH NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE NIGERIA COMPUTER SOCIETY (NCS), HELD AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE, UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN, IBADAN, OYO-STATE, FROM 17TH – 19TH JULY, 2018.
The Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) was established in 1978 as the umbrella body for all Information Technology practitioners in Nigeria. The Society comprises of various interest groups in the ICT industry namely: the Academia in Information Technology Profession (AITP), the Institute for Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), the Information Technology Association of Nigeria (ITAN), the Internet Service Provider Association of Nigeria (ISPAN), the Information Technology Systems and Security Professionals (ITSSP) and the Nigerian Women in IT (NiWIIT). The National Association of Computer Science Students (NACOSS) is the student group of NCS.
The NCS Conferences remain the largest annual gathering of IT professionals and stakeholders in the West Africa sub region. The 2018 National Conference theme was Digital Inclusion: Opportunities, Challenges and Strategies. Presentations were made by speakers drawn from ä broad spectrum of the Nigerian society: IT professionals, policy makers, academia, industry, business, multinationals, government agencies and non-government organizations. In addition, there were two special presentations by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Oyo State Government.
The Conference had in attendance, the Executive Governor of Oyo State, His Excellency, Senator Abiola Ajimobi with members of Oyo State Executive Council; the Executive Governor of Gombe State, His Excellency, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo represented by the Honourable Commissioner of Science and Technology, Asma’u Iganus, the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami; Director General, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Engr. Aliyu A. Aziz; Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships), Professor Olanike Kudirat Adeyemo; Nigeria’s first Professor of Computer Science and first President, NCS, Emeritus Professor, Olu Longe; Nigeria’s foremost historian, Professor Bolanle Awe; Past Presidents of the Society and members, College of Fellows of the Society. Furthermore, there were more than 787 attendees from within and outside of Nigeria. In addition, 368 new members were inducted and 13 corporate organizations. Following a tradition established during 2017 Conference, there was a noticeable attendance of Post Graduate students from West Africa sub-region in addition to the preponderant numbers of youth and females among the invited speakers.
After the paper presentations, technical sessions, contributions of the participants and exhaustive deliberations, the following decisions were reached:
The Society affirmed the huge potential of digital technologies for creating new opportunities for growth, driving development, promoting inclusive governance and transforming the country;
The Society noted some positive developments in Nigeria’s IT industry and digital development in various sectors; however it also raised concern on the digital exclusion of large sections of the Nigerian society comprising of women, the elderly, individuals living with disabilities, people outside the formal sector, the poor and the rural populace;
In achieving (i) and tackling (ii) above, there is an urgent need to pursue the prioritization of Digital Inclusion as a driver for inclusive and sustainable development;
Thus, the Society advocates a mental shift and change in public discourse/policy focus from Digital Divide to Digital Inclusion;
That there is need for a significant review of Nigeria ICT policy that will incorporate Digital Inclusion as a pivotal factor for driving socio-economic and political development;
That in view of the importance of digital identity for digital inclusion, NIMC should employ creative strategies to drive up awareness and scale up its present efforts to meet national database requirements;
That a Road map should be developed for e-Voting and e-Elections implementation in Nigeria through indigenous applications;
That there is need to rapidly pursue digital literacy for all, raise awareness and understanding of the potential of ICTs; the adoption and development of digital solutions and innovative data-driven approaches should be promoted to deliver improved economic, institutional and developmental benefits nationwide;
That as technology spreads within society, the Cybersecurity Advisory Council should raise greater awareness of cyber threats throughout the country; Nigeria should aim to be at the forefront of cyber security innovations and tap into the enormous opportunities – in terms of developing solutions and creating jobs;
That based on its review, the Federal Ministry of Education should update and implement the National Policy on ICT in Education; in addition to enhancing the quality and relevance of the curricula, human capital development in ICT should be supported by mentorship, entrepreneurship advisory and funding programs on a national scale;
That NITDA, NCS and other relevant stakeholders should promote youth interest, develop plans, engage in research and establish sustainable initiatives to enable the application of innovative and disruptive technologies to advance inclusive development in Nigeria;
That in view of the large proportion of financially excluded adults, CBN and NIBSS should widen and deepen current Fintech initiatives with a view to enhancing financial inclusion considerably in Nigeria;
That the level of digital inclusion in the country should be measured and monitored through the creation of a comprehensive Digital Inclusion Index; the index will provide evidence and insights for strategies and policies targeted at stimulating the development of an inclusive knowledge society;
That there is need to revisit and update the Nigeria National Broadband Plan with a view to expanding affordable access to internet for all, providing a good framework for sharing infrastructure and enabling the application of IT services to create jobs and wealth especially in rural and excluded communities;
That the Society affirmed its unflinching support for NITDA’s aggressive drive on promotion of local content use among Ministry, Department and Agencies as a means of jumpstarting the digital inclusion revolution in Nigeria, and,
That the Society commended the Oyo State Governor, for his visionary leadership and commitment to creating an enabling environment for digital inclusion and development in the state. The state government should encourage project sustainability, stakeholder collaboration and strategic partnerships in its efforts to make Oyo state a digital hub of Nigeria.
Professor Sola Aderounmu
Chairman, Conferences Committee