The Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) has asked government not to be persuaded to moving three government ICT agencies: National Information and Development Agency (NITDA), Galaxy Backbone and Nigeria Communication Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) from the Federal Ministry of Communications to the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.
The umbrella body for Nigerian computer professionals has issued a public a statement in Lagos to that effect. The statement was signed by its president, Professor Ganiyu Adesola Aderounmu.
Government is reportedly finalizing plans (http://itedgenews.ng/2016/12/02/government-may-move-nitda-nigcomsat-galaxy-backbone-to-science-and-technology-ministry/) to move the three public sector players in a cost-saving gesture to also strengthen their deliverables within the science and technology ministry.
But the NCS is arguing that the moves could weaken the organizations and reduce the establishment-value of the Ministry of Communications. It wants the ministry to revert to its immediate previous name of Federal Ministry of Communication Technology to capture the entire ICT sector.
NCS President’s public statement:
Information and Communication Technology is central to the creation of the emerging global knowledge-based economy and it is a pivotal instrument in accelerating growth, promoting sustainable development and eradicating poverty in developing countries such as ours;
ICT provides economic opportunities to both urban and rural populations;
The Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), the umbrella body of all Information Technology Professionals, Stakeholders, and Interest groups in Nigeria with over 20,000 memberships, in 2011 worked with the Federal Government in establishing the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology.
The Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) also agreed with the Federal Government in 2011 to retain the three agencies – NIGCOMSAT, NITDA, and Galaxy backbone under the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology for sustained development and actualization of ICT objectives towards diversifying Nigerian economy as communicated by the SGF upon creation of the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology in 2011
The missions of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Galaxy Backbone and Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd. (NIGCOMSAT), are related and the focus is more on Information and Communication technology.
Presently, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) formulates policies and develops Information Technology initiatives, while, NIGCOMSAT and Galaxy Backbone are providers of Information and Communication Technology infrastructure and services to Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies;
NIGCOMSAT is a SATELLITE OPERATOR and nota SPACE AGENCY;
As of today, there are 17 agencies/parastatalsunder the Ministry of Science and Technology, while, there are 5 agencies under the Federal Ministry of Communications. Table 1 shows the various agencies under the two ministries.
All over the world, Ministries of Information and Communication Technology were created to foster the development of an information society and stimulate the growth of a strong, competitive, vibrant, export-oriented ICT sector. Examples of such countries are Egypt, Singapore, India, United State of America, United Kingdom just to mention few.
The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector is a converged sector for Communications and Information Technology, thus the need to have a converged supervision of the agencies operating in this sector;
It would be counterproductive to separate operators (NIGCOMSAT and Galaxy Backbone Ltd) from their regulators (NCC and NITDA) in the supervisory/regulatory framework. This is also contrary to best practices the world over;
The need to streamline government expenditure and fight against corruption cannot be realized if the regulator of the communications sector is placed under the supervision of a different Ministry;
The concept of relocating the three agencies to the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology will set the nation more than fifteen (15) years behind our development plans.
Mandates of both Ministries as described in their websites, http://www.scienceandtech.gov.ng/ for the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and http://commtech.gov.ng/ for the Ministry of Communications respectively differs.
Given the importance of Information and Communication Technology to the Nation’s Economic Revival and Diversification, Nigeria Computer Society strongly recommends that:
The 3 agencies (NITDA, NIGCOMSAT and Galaxy Backbone) should remain under the Federal Ministry of Communications for better performance, networking, coordination, cooperation and collaboration in other to produce better output;
The Federal Government should empower the Federal Ministry of Communications financially to improve on strategies to achieve gross earnings from the ICT sector, generate employment and wealth creation;
The Federal Government should streamline/merge some agencies under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, and
The Federal Ministry of Communications should be renamed Federal Ministry of Communication Technology to capture the entire ICT sector.
The Federal Government should amend the laws governing the agencies and Ministry accordingly.