NCS: FG Must Develop Infrastructure, Create Enabling Environment to Produce Tech Savvy Innovators – THISDAY Newspapers

Emma Okonji
The Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), an advocacy group and the umbrella body for all Information Technology (IT) practitioners in the country, has stressed the need for the federal government to develop the right technology infrastructure and the enabling environment that will produce technology savvy innovators who will develop national and global solutions in today’s digital era.
NCS made the call in Lagos during its technology innovation workshop and bootcamp, where it showcased five selected teams that pitched their technology solutions designed to address specific challenges that cut across energy, education, finance, socio-economic issues, domestic issues and data management.
The business and economic data survey carried out across 200 countries from 2011 to 2021 by the Global Economy, ranked Nigeria’s innovation index very low.
The average value for Nigeria during that period was 23.85 points with a minimum of 20.1 points in 2020 and a maximum of 28.2 points in 2011, which is an indication that technology innovation is still low in the country.
Chairman of the NCS’ Technology Innovation Development Programme, Mr. Chris Uwaje, who frowned at the low level of government support for tech innovation, especially in the area of infrastructure, decried the high rate at which Nigerian youths are leaving the country in search of a better technology enabled environment.
He said: “So much of Nigerian tech innovators are being harvested by developed countries who understand the power of innovators. Nigerians invest so much in developing the human capacity, but government lacks the will power to invest in technology infrastructure to keep innovators in the country. Any country that does not build technology infrastructure will always lack the productivity layer on which technology innovators can ride on to thrive.”
According to him, the NCS’ Technology Innovation Development Programme is designed to raise innovators and entrepreneurs and to support them grow to a level where they can use their solutions to address national and global needs of individuals, organisations and societies.    
Uwaje explained that the growing youth population of the country had always been a source of strength and comparative advantage for national development, but decried the huge decay at the Tinapa Business Resort Centre in Calabar, Cross River State, that could have served as an enabling environment for technology incubation of thousands of Nigerian youths from across the country.
“Tinapa could have been a good example of government’s will-power to create conducive environment for the development of talents in technology, but successive governments abandoned the project because they lacked the political will-power to sustain and expand technology investments in the country. I wept for Nigeria each time I remembered it, because it has become a colossal loss to the country. Technology innovators do not need government money, what they need is the technology environment that will make them develop innovate solutions that will address local and global challenges,” Uwaje said.
NCS President, Prof. Adesina Sodiya, in his opening remarks at the bootcamp, said the innovation programme was initiated two years ago to drive technology development in the country and to produce world-class solutions that will benefit all. He assured the participating teams of the support from NCS in the areas of mentorship and financing that would enable them upscale their solutions to a level where they could compete globally.
The five teams that pitched their solutions at the NCS bootcamp include: Team Gaschek, Team Cashfog, Team Record Digita, Team Thrively and Team UniXP.
Team Gaschek solution detects cooking gas leakage and the level of gas in the cylinder, to enable chef and domestic staff know when they are running out of gas. It comes with a base, an app that can be operated from a mobile phone, and a monitor, where information about the gas level and leakage are displayed on the screen of the monitor. The app sends text messages to a programmed mobile phone and can also initiate voice call to the mobile phone whenever there is gas leakage.
Cashfog solution addresses the issue of trust in funds transfer, while Record Digita solution addresses data management and archiving in organizations and learning institutes. UniXP takes the ease of campus life to students by uploading information about a university campus on a mobile app and making such information available to students through the app, while Thrively seeks to address socio-economic challenges of sending money to people and relief materials to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in other countries.            
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