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Key Note Address
By Prof. Turner T. Isoun
Nigeria's Honourable Minister of Science and Technology,
At the Lunching of the Smart Card Society of Nigeria on 11th April, 2002.
(Posted 3rd Jun, 2002) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them.

It gives me great pleasure to be among you this evening for this epoch making occasion of the lunching of the Smart Card Society of Nigeria (SCSN). This is a further indication of the positive response from the private sector on the development of Information Technology (I.T) in Nigeria, which has been triggered by the government's approval of the National I.T policy. The formation of the SCSN is an evidence of the corporation amongst the corporate bodies in the private sector and NGO's as well as in the public sector involved in the promotion of the smart card usage in Nigeria.

I therefore wish to congratulate all the stakeholders that have made this occasion possible and the formation of SCSN a reality. I bring good tidings from my ministry and the National Information Technology Development agency (NITDA), and wish to assure you of our collaboration in the promotion of the use of smart card for the socio-economic development of Nigeria.

I.T revolution has heralded the 21st century and the new millennium. Personal computers fax machines, pagers, and cell phones are in the hands of millions of people worldwide. Similarly, interest in Smart card technology has soared in the 1990's, and by the year 2000 the number and variety of smart card-based applications had exploded around the world.

The first chip cards were simple prepaid telephone cards implemented in Europe in the mid-1980's, using memory cards. Today, the major active application areas for microprocessor-based smart card includes: financial, communication, government programs, information security, physical access security, transportation, retail and royalty, health care, university identification. These areas intersect sometimes making it possible for the smart card to carry applications from more than one area (for example, combining information and physical security access, or financial and retail/royalty).

Unfortunately, as more and more of the world population embrace the proceeds of using smart technology, Nigeria has witnessed a very slow growth in its penetration. One of the major issues of this trend is the limited convergence and interoperability of smart cards within the existing technologies employed in the various sector of the economy. In as much as this is a reality, it is worth noting that standards are key to ensuring interoperability and compatibility in an environment of multiple cards and terminal vendors. It is time the nation finds interoperability standard for the realization of a smart card enabled economy.

Some of the key advantages of smart card technology include:

  1. The capacity provided by the on-board microprocessor and data capacity for highly secure off-line processing.
  2. Adherence to international standard, ensuring multiple vendor sources and competitive prices.
  3. Established track record in real world applications.
  4. Durability and long expected life span [guaranteed by vendor for up to 10,000 read/writes before failure].
  5. Chip operating systems that support multiple applications and secure independent data storage on one single card.

There is need for an accelerated growth in the smartcard industry for the realisation of our desire to build an economy. Electronic purse will have to replace coins for small purchases in vending machines and over-the-counter transactions. Credit and debit accounts will hare to replace our many bank accounts. Eventually, electronic payment over the Internet will be commonplace in our environment.

The government on the other hand has made effort in recent years towards the development of a solid IT base for the nation. This is evident by the way the present government has declared Information Technology as a national priority. As a recast, I will like to bring to light that the Federal executive council approved the National Information Technology Policy in March 2001. The vision is 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. The mission is to use IT for Education, Creation of Wealth, and Poverty eradication, Job creation and Global competitiveness. The policy clearly states the objectives for the IT policy as well as strategies for achieving the goals. The private sector has been recognised as a major engine to drive IT industry with the government stimulating the industry and providing the enabling environment. Emphasis has been placed on e-governance, e-commerce, tele-education, tele-medicine etc. Collaboration and alliances with the private sector are corner stone of the policy. The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has been mandated to implement the national IT policy.

The activities of government and the partnership with the private sector and NGOs in the past one year since the approval of the National IT policy have clearly shown the commitment of government to growth of the IT industry. Government is even more prepared this year in promoting strong public/private partnership in order to utilize IT as an engine growth for national development.

Government is presently investing much in the national ID card project for the general citizenry. Smart Card and its associated technologies will form the core of it implementation. We cannot fully evolve an effective e-governance system without the fusion of smart card technologies in our digitization schemes. Malaysia government is about to roll out a Government Multi-Purpose Card (GMPC) that consolidates identification, license, health and other information on one card. The GMPC embedded with s security enhanced 32k microprocessor chip that is multifunctional across varying system will provide a common platform for smart card solutions.

Government is committed to the e-government programme in order to make government services available to Nigerians anywhere, any place and any time. E-commerce will be a component of the national e-government gateway. Smart card technology will play a good role in these projects.

The Smart Card Society of Nigeria (SCSN) has the responsibility of collaborating with government in making this a reality. It is our collective responsibility to sensitise all the sectors of the economy on the need to embrace the smart card technology. Government on the other hand will provide the enabling environment through regulation and enforcement of legislation that will foster the growth of the industry. The present administration is focused on creating an economy that will match favourable well with those of the developed world. The Federal Government ultimate goal is to adopt a limited number of multi-application smart card that will carry smart cards that will support a wide range of Government-wide and agency-specific services. It is envisioned that eventually every citizen of this country will carry smart cards that can be used for multipurpose such as identification, building access, health information, network access, property accountability, travel, and other administrative and financial functions.

I wish to congratulate you for the formation of the Smart Card Society of Nigeria. I praise you for your foresight of the role smart card will play in our national life in this knowledge driven and IT propelled global economy.

Once again, I wish to thank you for the opportunity to be part of this unique ceremony and memorable occasion.

Professor Turner T. Isoun.
Nigeria's Honourable Minister of Science and Technology

See Also: SmartCard Expo 2002: July 2-4, 2002

                Smart Card Society of Nigeria: A Profile (243kb)

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