Today we are witnessing the culmination of efforts
by the Ministry of Communication Technology, her
implementing agency NITDA and the partners that you
have already heard to address, in one innovative
programme, two of the mandates of the Ministry of
Communication Technology. The first being to promote
the utilisation of ICTs in all spheres of life - and
education has been given priority and the second
being the promotion and the facilitation of the
development of the ICT industry.
PC penetration in Nigeria is one of the lowest in
Africa despite the fact that we have a youthful
population that is IT savvy and hungry to not only
consume but create content over electronic media.
Several reasons have been given for this and they
include amongst other things the affordability and
availability of the devices and the slow pace by
which ICTs are being adopted for teaching and
learning in our secondary and tertiary institutions.
Federal and state governments through various
programmes and corporate institutions through their
corporate social responsibility initiatives have
sought to bridge this ICT access gap for students.
The most common means being the donation of well
equipped computer labs with internet connectivity to
schools and universities. These initiatives
certainly provide succour for our deprived students
but if we are to achieve our national aspiration and
vision to be a digitally connected knowledge society
our students and our youth must have increased
access to ICTs.
There is a whole world of knowledge and learning to
be found on the internet and we must ensure that our
young students have unfettered access to this world
so they can participate meaningfully in the
knowledge society that we are trying to build. Being
connected to electronic libraries, having access to
world class research material, being connected to a
network of students and research institutions means
that they can also participate as not only consumers
of all of this content but also creators of the
content. Ofcourse not forgetting the productivity
and efficiency benefits of having your own device.
Therefore actually owning a device, a personal
computer in this instance, is a big first step in
achieving these objectives.
On the other hand, we have a fairly well established
device assembly industry. Some of the companies that
you see represented here today are over 20 years old
and have operations in countries other than Nigeria.
Unfortunately, our preference of international or
global brands who have much better marketing,
research and production capacity has led to the poor
capacity utilisation of these assembly plants.
Federal and state governments have been their
biggest customers which means that they are
dependent on the most uncertain world of government
The Ministry of Communication Technology and NITDA
saw a very clear window to literally kill the two
birds of poor PC ownership by students and poor
acceptance of local brands and poor capacity
utilisation of our PC assembly plants with one
stone. As you well know, our youth tend to be most
critical, vocal and demanding of goods and services
they procure. Once they are sold however they will
be the greatest advocates of the brand and will
demonstrate loyalty well beyond their student years.
Providing them with computers that are built to
exacting world class standards, designed with
Nigeria in mind and aesthetically pleasing will go a
long way to earning this loyalty.
You have already heard about the unique features of
this scheme but let me just summarise them again for
This is a collaborative and mutually benefical
effort between PC assemblers, universities, banks,
global technology companies and telecoms companies
that has required many months of conceptualising and
This initiative is entirely technology driven and
contributes to the growing number of ecommerce
initiatives that will move us to the desired
digital, diversified, productive and efficient
The technology that is used to power this initiative
was developed by a group of extremely talented
Nigerian software developers, a testament to the
fact that we can develop a viable and vibrant local
software industry catering to our domestic needs but
exportable to other markets.
Finally and most importantly, government, in this
particular scheme has moved from the role of the
contracting entity to the enabling entity through
the efforts of NITDA and the Ministry in
conceptualising this scheme and being the 'honest broker' that brought all the parties together.
Even as all the parties have worked together over
the last few months we must continue in this
collaborative manner if this initiative will be as
successful as we all hope and pray it will be and
deliver the objectives of PC penetration, capacity
utilisation, brand acceptance and most of all
student participation in the digital economy. The
process you have seen today is a chain, a weak link
in the chain will compromise the integrity of the
entire chain. I urge all of our partners today not
to be the weak link in the chain even during the
pilot phase where the scheme and all its components
will be thoroughly tested before being rolled out to
all tertiary institutions. At this point I would
like to thank the Vice Chancellors of the pilot
universities, the Chairman of the Committee of Vice
Chancellors and ofcourse the Executive Secretary of
the NUC without whose support this scheme would not
While students may hunger and yearn for computers
they do not have the earning power - so while the
demand will be catalysed by students it will be
actualised by willing parents, wards, guardians,
mentors and other well meaning Nigerians who are
willing to invest as little as N3,500 a month in the
future of the country.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I thank you all
for joining us today and I look forward to the
success of this innovative programme.