By Mmaduabuchi Onwumelu
The Managing Director of Anambra ICT Agency, Mr. Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata, has reiterated Governor Soludo’s vision towards making Anambra a livable and smart mega city and the agency’s commitment to drive the vision, which, he said, culminated in the need to have a state ICT Policy framework.
Mr Agbata stated this in Awka during the first ever Anambra State ICT Policy Stakeholders’ Engagement Workshop.
Key participants from various businesses and fields of expertise reviewed and contributed to the draft ICT Policy Framework created by the State ICT Agency to develop a comprehensive and holistic document, a strong blueprint for the execution of tech initiatives in the state.
According to the MD, otherwise known as CFA, ‘Technology is at the heart of what we want to achieve and to make it sustainable, we need a policy- a holistic policy backed by executive order.
‘Think of the ICT hubs in developed countries, you know they didn’t just happen.
‘These were the result of conscious efforts by governments, driven by policies and that is what we are doing here today,’ he added.
Agbata said that the draft under review incorporated the National Information Development Technology Act, Mr. Governor’s manifesto, the Transition Committee Report, Vision 2070, and the National Start up Law, which, he said, was appropriate to be domesticated in the policy document.
The document, Agbata further revealed, would be a blueprint for the implementation of ‘Everything Technology and Technology Everywhere’ vision of Governor Chukwuma Soludo, noting that as a collaborator, the agency was willing to share the model and collaborate with other states and bodies once it was approved by the state government.
The ICT expert said the participants at the workshop were drawn from all relevant stakeholders group within and outside Nigeria, all in a bid to make sure that they had a voice in the policy.
‘Apart from Lagos and few other places, we have pockets of young people doing their own things in secluded formats, not based on policy.
‘Africa is quite endangered in the area of artificial intelligence, as developed countries are building multi-billion dollar industries and positioning for such investments.
‘We must therefore begin to position the industry in the state for the curve ahead.We just want to make sure that technology thrives in Anambra, but we can’t do it alone.
‘The Governor has given us the necessary backing and has supported us to achieve a lot. The Anambra ICT Agency is ready and all we ask is that you join forces with us to create a model that other states may follow to ensure that Nigeria is a habitable place.
‘We will make sure that enough time is allowed for more stakeholders’ input beyond here,’ he concluded.
In his goodwill message, the Dean, faculty of Physical Sciences, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam, Prof. Kingsley Nwozor, praised Governor Soludo for running a government of collaboration across fields and giving innovation the platform to thrive.
‘I see a bright future for Anambra State through this workshop; with the digitization of several services for us at the university such as online payment of fees and result checking, plans for virtual classes, we anticipate working with the ICT Agency to accomplish much more.
‘We want to say that the COOU is ready to explore further partnerships with this agency towards technological advancements in the state,’ Nwozor said.
The President General of Nkpor Community and the information personnel for ASATU, Chief Emeka Mbagha, said ICT was the new normal which he hoped would enable Anambra people to access internet services even from leisure parks.
A cyber security expert, Mr. Arinze Okosieme, who participated virtually from the United Kingdom, lauded the efforts of the state government driven by the ICT Agency to deepen technology in the state and pledged to support the state through the Agency in any way possible.
To further strengthen the ICT policy, as it is done globally, he also advocated for the establishment of cyber security labs and a state cyber security policy.
For their parts, the representatives of the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency, ANSIPPA; the Anambra Civil Society Network; the Strategy Execution and Evaluation, SEE office; and other speakers at the event, hailed the initiative of the workshop and the ICT policy, noting that the future held brighter prospects for the state, considering the kind of engagements the Agency was holding with stakeholders. They all pledged their support to the initiative through their platforms.
Agbata appreciated the stakeholders for their critical reviews and input into the policy, adding that the ICT Policy would serve as a compass for all ICT initiatives in the state upon approval by the governor.
Highlights of the workshop were the presentation of the draft policy, as well as a break-out session which featured intense engagement, opening the discourse for deeper conversation on how to shape the future of ICT in Anambra State.