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Nigeria Internet Group Holds Convention (Posted 7th November, 2003) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them.

A cross section of participants at the conventionToday in Nigeria, the Internet has become big business, with about 1,842 Internet Cafes and over 90 active Internet Service Providers (ISPs) dotting most major cities in the country, Nigeria appears to be on the way to a developed Internet industry. According to market research by eShekels, an information technology research company based in Lagos, there is a conservative estimate of 1.6 million Internet users in the country. It was against this backdrop that the 2nd convention/AGM of the Nigeria Internet Group, NIG, was declared open at the Diamond hall of the Golden Gate Paradise (Restaurant), Ikoyi, Lagos. It had, as its theme - Translating Nigeria’s e-Potentials to Global Opportunities: A Time for Action. 

Jim Ovia, CEO of Nigeria’s 5th largest bank, Zenith, who is also the chairman of the NIG in his welcome address asserted that about 10 years ago the Internet used to be an overpowering thing but it has now become an understood, usable and critical factor of production just like land. He spoke warmly about his belief that the Internet will enable Nigeria to leapfrog as a respectable player into the global economy. He also added that the country’s top level domain, .ng will become readily available before the close of this year, and this situation will make Internet access cheaper, as emails using this domain will reduce bandwidth usage of Internet Cafes, companies and home users. Mr. Ovia announced that he would be stepping down as the President of the NIG after 2 years.  

Jim Ovia, outgoing President of NIG, with guests. According to the Special Assistant to the Lagos State Governor on Information Technology, Dr. Akin Doherty, Africa cannot afford to miss out on the Information & communication Technology revolution having missed out on the agricultural and industrial revolutions. He went further to enumerate the State government’s achievements so far in its strategic application of information technology to drive processes efficiently. These include the training of 6, 500 staff, full utilisation of 9 modules of Oracle enterprise software, etc.  Mr. Doherty promised that a digital technology village in conjunction with Microsoft Corporation is almost ready at Ebute Meta and that the first phase of the redevelopment of the state’s web site is nearing completion. 

Professor Ajayi, Director General of Nigeria information Technology Development Authority, NITDA, in his message of goodwill congratulated NIG and informed the full house that efforts are currently in top gear for Nigeria to host its own communication satellite after the recent successful launch of its NIGERSAT1. In his presentation, e-Government, The Key Challenges, he looked at all the efforts of the federal government at increasing the use of information technology to facilitate government processes and also government’s steps at deregulating the information & communication technology sector of the Nigerian economy. 

An executive director, eShekels, Fola Odufuwa, in his very illuminating paper, Current Assessment of Technology Trends (What the Future Holds). He talked about the wireless explosion, catching up with the west, market indicators for Nigeria; 1,842 Ernest Ndukwe, Vice Chairman, Executive Director, Nigerian Communications Commission.Internet Cafes (close to 1,000 in Lagos State), over 90 active ISPs, conservative estimate of 1.6 million Internet users. He went on to list the areas where opportunities abound. These are backbone connectivity, satellite services, web services, voice over internet protocol (VOIP), broadband, multimedia & electronic content services, etc. 

Other presentations at today’s opening came from Michael McGee, United States Department of Commerce Counselor in Nigeria, Gbenga Aboderin, a consultant with E & M Business Consultancy, Lagos, Doyin Odunfa, Deji Oguntonade, Gerald Ilukwe and Chika Nwobi. Mr. McGee in his presentation sought to highlight the need for general awareness of the population, the uses and gains inherent in eCommerce web services. Mr. Aboderin painted a picture of the growing importance of information technology in efficient business processes.

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