The Silicon Valley myth
Gbenga began his presentation by first clearing up the myth that people had concerning Silicon Valley which was that “The US Government was not involved in the development of Silicon Valley”. He stated that without the policy guidelines that the US Government, the Silicon Valley Ecosystem would not have existed and thrived the way it has.
The Nigerian Dream
After clearing up the Silicon Valley myth, he then went on to explain how the ICT Policy came to existence. It all began with Nigeria having a dream of being an IT giant in Africa, they knew how to do it but due to successive governments paying little attention to the policy development, that dream soon began to fade. The ICT ministry was created in order the problem of policy development. This was due to the fact that there was no harmonized policy for all IT related sectors (Telecommunications, Broadcasting) and also for other sectors like postal services and government agencies. The policy aims at harmonizing all the policies from the different sectors and put them into one policy.
Problems with engaging the government
Gbenga further went on to explain why the policies are not bringing the benefits that were promised. He attributed this to the fact that there is no engagement between the Government and the private sector. He gave several examples of where this lack of engagement is clearly against our favor and the cybersecury bill was just one of them
- The Cyber-crime bill (now the Cyber-security Bill)
The cyber-crime bill, when it was heard at the senate, there were only 7 people at the hearing. The cyber-crime bill was going to give more power to the police to arrest people using laptops and mobile phones based on reasonable doubt. This means that if a police man saw you making a phone and suspected you, he could arrest you without a warrant and take you in for questioning. This was a bill that most of the public did not know about.
To engage the government on policy development and formulation, do the following
- Write: Write about what your thoughts are, it could be an emails, blog post or tweet.
- Show up: You need to also show up where matters concerning policies are discussed e.g. Events, Seminars, Conferences, etc.
- Be Specific: Don’t be afraid to be specific about what you want to see from the policy.
You can read more about what was discussed with the link below.