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NEEDS: Adoption of a Failing NITDA IT Policy


Femi Oyesanya


Thursday, June 10, 2004



An article by LEA BREGAR and TANJA DMITROVIC, both of the Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana, writes:

“Modern (horizontal) industrial policy builds on a wide array of micro-and macroeconomic measures often directed towards the creation and utilisation of intangible resources of competitiveness.  This increases the complexity of linkages with other “policies” and creates additional challenges for a successful evaluation and monitoring of the effectiveness of a specific policy measure. It also requires a coordinated effort of several public offices and institutions in their implementation”[1]

     The linkages talked about above can be seen

in the way that the Nigerian National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) has wholly integrated the National IT Policy within the framework of the Nigeria’s National Economic Policy. 

The core ICT policy focus of the NEEDS document bellow, are essentially Policy iterations:


A)   Develop and sustain a modern information and communication technology capacity that is conducive to private sector driven growth and economic development, improve quality of life and affect the level of poverty significantly.

B)   Improve access to Internet connectivity and raise the level of computer usage and literacy.

C)   Facilitate the development of a national multimedia super corridor including provision of appropriate incentives for private sector involvement

D)            Aggressively promote ICT as an instrument of mass education, growth and development.


  Thus, there is evidence of intricate policy integration, as both NEEDS and the Nigerian IT Policy seem to have outlined similar Information Technology development strategic goal paths.

     Most would agree that Information Technology reliance

has become an intricate part of Economic Development, Information Technology is the driving force behind modern productivity, efficiency, and performance effectiveness. Thus, for NEEDS to be successful, the Information Technology Development strategy must also be effective.  The infusion of the Nigerian IT Policy into NEEDS, must provide clear capacity for attaining an effective national Information Technology development.

 The underlying question then becomes that of performance of the Nigerian IT Policy.  Does the implementation and performance of the NITDA’s IT policy merit it’s adoption into the NEEDS strategic plan?  If not, why did NEEDS adopt a failing IT policy?

The adoption of the Nigerian IT Policy, as a component of the NEEDS strategy does not seem to necessarily argument an effective Information’s Technology development policy that must be the critical driving force behind the successful implementation of Nigeria’s National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy.

It was in March 2001, that the Federal Executive Council of Nigeria (FEC), approved the National Information Technology Policy. At that time, the vision statement within the policy was articulated as: “to make Nigeria an IT capable country in Africa and a key player in the Information Society by the year 2005, using IT as the engine for sustainable development and global competitiveness” 

               It is now 2004, and there is clear indication that NITDA’s implementation of the national IT policy will not meet the performance expectations needed to achieve sustainable Information Technology development.  It will now take an act of God to make Nigeria an essential player in Information Society by the Year 2005. Generally, NITDA’s implementation of the IT policy should be seen as a failure.

With very little time left before reaching 2005, NITDA

has failed to deliver a successful implementation of most of its core objectives.  Rather, what NIDTA has done, is hold a barrage of seminars; E-Nigeria, E-judiciary, etc.

The promises of making technology resources readily available by 2005 predictably will not materialize.

     Valuable National Information technology infrastructure, such as SAT-3 Fiber Backbone are still underutilized.  An article by Harry Goldstein noted: “built and laid at a cost of US $640 million, the submarine SAT-3 fiber-optic cable is 14 350 km long and links 9 African countries. It connects to the wider world just outside of Cape Town, South Africa, via a cable that terminates in Cochin, India, and Penang, Malaysia. SAT-3 has a capacity of 120 Gb/s, enough to carry 5.8 million phone calls simultaneously, and the link to Nigeria was established here on Victoria Island a year ago. Yet after a year’s availability, it has just one confirmed customer, Shell Oil, Table Evaluating IT Policy performance and Implementation with another oil company, Chevron, showing some interest”[2]

               NITDA’s Mobile Internet Unit program (MIU), will also

have no significant impact on Nigeria’s technology development.  With only six mobile buses deployed, and no clear program curriculum, the MIU’s should really be seen

a travelling technology circus parading the country, and depreciating with every mile traveled.

     So, the question then becomes, why did the architects of NEEDS, adopt NITDA’s IT Policy?  Why did a failing Information’s Technology Policy become part of the Nigerian National Economic Development strategy?  Typically, one

Would expect the NEEDS people to have reviewed the performance of the IT Policy before adopting it. 

     The following informal review of NITDA’s IT Policy

clearly indicates that the Nigerian IT Policy has no clear direction.  Most of NITDA’s objectives are either at preliminary phases, or offer no tangible impact on National Technology development. NITDA has become the master of “E-This” and  “E-That”.  Coining phrases like: E-Judiciary, E-Purse, E-Payments, E-Crimes, E-Billing, E-Publications, E-Research, E-cash, E-banking, E-Government, E-Nigeria, E-health, E-education, E-commerce, E-Procurement, E-Pricing, E-Policing, and E-Buka, yet failing to deliver meaningful E-commerce performance.



Informal Performance Review of NITDA’S IT Policy

IT Policy Objective

Performance Review

To ensure that Information Technology resources are readily available to promote efficient national development

Some Information technology resource has become available. However, it is largely driven by the private sector. 

To guarantee that the country benefits maximally, and contributes meaningfully by providing the global solutions to the challenges of the Information Age

ICT capacity is still inadequate to provide maximum benefit

To empower Nigerians to participate in software and IT development

NITDA held some Open Source Software conference, but is yet to provide enabling mechanism for national participation

To encourage local production and manufacture of IT components in a

competitive manner

4 Local manufactures were approved.  Some personal Computer assembly is now taking place in Nigeria.

However, most are still imports.

To improve accessibility to public administration for all citizens, bringing transparency to government processes

E-Government Conferences and

National e-government Strategies LTD (NeGSt), but are still in developmental phases.

To establish and develop IT infrastructure and maximize its use nationwide

SAT-3 is underutilized.  Only

used by Shell.

To improve judicial procedures and enhance the dispensation of justice

E-Judiciary Conference was held

To improve food production and food security

Efforts unknown

To promote tourism and Nigerian arts & culture

Effort unknown

To improve healthcare delivery systems nationwide

Effort unknown

To enhance planning mechanisms and forecasting for the development

of local infrastructure

NIDTA is active member of the WSIS implementation, which is still at premature stages

To enhance the effectiveness of environmental monitoring and control


Nigeria launched it’s first satellite in 2003, NigeriaSat-1.    Plans for a communications satellite are said to be underway


To re-engineer and improve urban and rural development schemes

Rural Internet Resource Centers were established in Bayelsa and Jigawa States.  Also 6 Mobile Internet Units were commissioned to travel the entire country

To empower children, women and the disabled by providing special programs for the acquisition of IT skills

Efforts unknown



To empower the youth with IT

skills and prepare them for global competitiveness



There are currently 35 Diginet sites, each with 22 Computers.  Diginet is sponsored by the Education Tax Fund.  A total of 60 sites is expected to complete by 2004



To integrate IT into the mainstream of education and training

The National Universities Commission manages NUNET.  Only a dozen Universities use NUNET.  NUNET has nothing to do with NITDA

To create IT awareness and ensure universal access in order to promote IT diffusion in all sectors of our national life

NITDA frequently holds ITC seminar and Conferences.  E-judiciary, E-Nigeria to name a few

To create an enabling environment and facilitate private sector

(national and multinational) investment in the IT sector

International partnerships with Microsoft Corporation, Oracle Corporation, Hewlett Packard, CISCO Systems, Accenture, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, to deliver E-government  and locally with

Zinox, Omatek, Beta and Unitec Computers, Progenics Corporation, SystemSpec Ltd., Econet Wireless, Globacom, MTN Nigeria and M-Tel.

To stimulate the private sector to become the driving force for IT

creativity and enhanced productivity and competitiveness

Some core technologies within the Mobile Internet Unit used

private sector resources. 

To encourage government and private sector joint venture


Several Joint venture relationships exist between Nigerian Government and International Organizations, fewer exist between local Organizations

To enhance national security and law enforcement

E-Judiciary Conferences were held

To endeavour to bring the defence and law enforcement agencies in

line with accepted best practices in the national interest

E-Judiciary Conferences were held

To promote legislation (Bills & Acts) for the protection of on-line,business transactions, privacy and security.

Nigerian IT Bill was not passed into Law

To establish new multi-faceted IT institutions as centres of excellence to ensure Nigeria’s competitiveness in international markets

Still in premature planning stages


To develop human capital with emphasis on creating and supporting a knowledge-based society


Center for excellence are still in developmental phases


To create Special Incentive Programs (SIPs) to induce investment in the IT sector


Efforts Unknown

To generate additional foreign exchange earnings through expanded

indigenous IT products and services

NITDA’s financial reports are not public 

To strengthen National identity and unity

Efforts Unknown

To build a mass pool of IT literate manpower using the NYSC, NDE and other platforms as “train the trainer” Scheme (TTT) for capacity building.

NITDA-ETF ICT Center of Excellence Program is aimed at enabling Nigeria to participate fully and actively in the ICT Revolution through the development of a large pool of educated and qualified Nigerian ICT professionals.

However, not one single center of excellence is ready.  This is still at the premature stages.

To set up Advisory standards for education, working practices and


Efforts Unknown


To establish appropriate institutional framework to achieve the goals stated above.


NIDTA and auxiliary NITDA organizations were created

























The above informal review is not alone, a formal study conducted in 2003, by the Economist Intelligence Unit IBM revealed that “E-business in Nigeria faces serious obstacles: inadequate telecoms infrastructure, unreliable power supply and authorities who, by and large, lack

the means to push e-business forward”[3]








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[1] See,

[2] See,


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