SOKOTO State government has entered into partnership a UK agency as part of an ambitious telecommunications programme aimed at founding and improving information and communications technology (ICT) facilities under a unique skills programme.
One of Nigeria’s least developed states despite having a rich cultural history, Sokoto has a population of 3.7m but only has a meagre annual gross domestic product (GDP) of $4.2bn. About 80% of its residents are subsistence farmers and in terms of education, Sokoto State ranks 29 out of 30 in Nigeria with a literacy rate of just 30.1 %.
Desperate to turn this around, Governor Aminu Tambuwal recently participated in the UK Fund Prosperity Fund-Nigeria Project Technical e-Conference on Right of Way held in Abuja in a bid to woo investors. Mallam Mohammad Bello, Governor Tambuwal’s spokesman, said that the latest partnership was brokered by Basiru Daniya, the director-general of ICT development in Sokoto State.
Under the terms of the deal, the yet-to-be named UIK agency will help expand training and the provision of ICT facilities like computers and Internet access across Sokoto State. Catriona Laing, the British high commissioner to Nigeria has endorsed the project and has agreed to offer it her full support.
Mallam Bello said: “Sokoto State government is by this development, poised to reposition the ICT sector by facilitating the passage of the Sokoto State Information and Communication Technology Development Agency Bill.”
He added that the bill is intended to speed up ICT integration and development across the 23 local government areas in the state. According to Mallam Bello, the present administration was committed to supporting the reduction of costs to allow Broadband penetration in the country.
Governor Tambuwal pledged to engage the British high commission and other development partners, to ensure that the state successfully achieved its digital agenda known as #SokotoDigitalAgenda. He pleaded with other state governors to take the issue of Broadband penetration more seriously, noting that it was a prerequisite for the development of the global digital agenda, which could close the gap of the digital divide among nations.