Computer for All

Computer for All

Postby Richard Akindele » Wed Jul 12, 2006 5:40 pm

THE Federal Government's initiative at encouraging mass use of computer in the country by making computers available to many Nigerians is a development that is capable of changing the country quickly, and launching it into the main stream of information technology. The government through the Computer for All Nigerian Initiative intends to ensure that 500,000 Nigerians own computers over the next two years.

President Olusegun Obasanjo showed immense enthusiasm in the project when he declared that the project will "stimulate a vibrant local industry in hardware and software, employment generation, poverty alleviation, wealth creation as well as capacity and competence building for Nigeria workforce."

Have we not heard all that before? The President's observation can only become an affirmation if CANI is well organised, systematically pursued and transparently implemented. Several cogs are capable of frustrating the project and the government is well aware of them. The major one is electricity supply -- a problem that the Federal Government has grossly understated. Most recent studies have confirmed the high energy bills. The Central Bank of Nigeria in its own statement confirmed that Nigeria's economy is the least competitive in Africa, as a result of high costs. Erratic electricity supply is at the centre of the costs.

As the nine companies that have indicated interest in making a success of this initiative play their part, government has to make every effort to ensure that there is steady power supply. Computers, mostly run on electricity and the additional equipment that would be added into a system that currently runs on mostly individually generated power, would be an additional burden on those who would benefit from the Computer For All project.

The products, to be assembled locally, will be sold to Nigerians at fifty per cent less than prevailing market rate. Employers are expected to subsidise the sale by twenty per cent to be complemented with a general discount of thirty per cent making a total of 50 per cent discount.

Nigeria stands to gain when majority of its people are computer literate. It would gain more when those citizens have computers in their offices and home to process necessary data for business and research related matters for educational, health and industrial advancement of the nation. The 21st century is the age of Information and Communication Technology, ICT. Nigeria is far behind, with most if its populace, in the rural areas unaware of global advances.

This initiative should not leave out the rural dwellers. The world has become a global village where e-government, e-business and e-payments dominate the scene. Any establishment, individual or government that fails to meet up with the challenge cannot successfully operate in today's world.

This initiative can succeed more if the government gives the companies that have shown interest all necessary backing and support aimed at making Nigeria's march to modernity a reality.

Richard Akindele
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