A two- day International Workshop titled: The Kano ICT Park: from concept to reality was conducted at Tahir Guest Palace, Kano. The workshop which took place between Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th May 2008 was an official declaration for the opening of the Kano State Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Park.
The occasion witnessed the attendance of international representatives from Malaysia and Ghana, representatives of International Organization such as DFID, top governmental officials, academicians, professional ICT companies, various non-governmental organizations from all part of the nation. A number of papers were presented dealing with the Conception of the ICT Park in Kano, its development, sustainability, entrepreneurship, man power supply among other important issues. The Deputy Governor of Kano state Engineer Abdullahi Tijjani Muhammad Gwarzo who represented the Executive Governor of Kano Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau declared the ICT Park open after expressing the state government appreciation on the workshop. Engineer Abdullahi Tijjani stated that the entire world socio-economy is moving faster due to Information Communication Technology [ICT] which is the driving force behind it. He added that Kano State Government, in its effort to catch up in the race for ICT and socio-economic developments, establish the office of the Special Adviser on Education and Information Technology under the leadership of Dr. Bashir Galadanchi which eventually metamorphosed into the Kano ICT Park from concept to reality. The Deputy Governor concluded that even though the ten storey building popularly known as investment house was not build for ICT purpose, it is now an excellent decision by the state to convert the structure into an ICT park.
On the side of the Comissioner for Planning and Budget Hon. Nura Sani Hanga, the ICT Park is seen as a stepping-stone a road map to economic development. The Commissioner expressed his appreciation for Multimedia Super Corridor Technology Centre (MTC) Malaysia for making the Kano ICT plan a reality.
In a paper presented by Y. Z Ya’u, the Executive Director Center for Information Technology and Development [CITAD] and the Secretary General (ITAN) title, ICT training in the north, exploring the untapped market, Ya’u described channels through which ICT could be used for socio-economic development of Kano in particular and northern Nigeria in general. According to this paper, northern Nigeria is far left behind in the area of ICT despite the significance attached to the ICT. Even in Nigeria, Ya’u said, there is a digital divide or more precisely ICT knowledge divide between the south and the north. To site an example Y.Z. Ya’u further said, “there are more computers training opportunities (Computer Pools) in Lagos alone than in all the northern state of Nigeria and out of the diversified non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) only three engaged in ICT related activities in this region.” Further, the Executive Director, CITAD, lamented that out of the sixteen APTEC offices only two were established in the north.
How ever, Y.Z. Ya’u noted that; ‘there is massive demand for ICT in Kano and other part of the northern Nigeria. This called for massive ICT training that can be used and converted into digital force if the state government played its role properly”. According to him, Kano State has the largest populace in the nation; it has the largest potentialities, and so it attracts investors to come in for business. Therefore the decision of the government established ICT Park in the state is un-challengeable because this will pave a way for E-Commerce, e-agriculture, e-education e-technology and serve as a take up stage for further economic development. The Y.Z. added that Kano state ICT park is conducive for ICT companies and investors because it has many advantages that include availability of infrastructures, ready market, ICT manpower, proximity of Professional working for ICT easily accessible for neighboring state among others.
While presenting his paper at the occasion, Prof. A.U Adamu of Bayero University, Kano, stressed the importance of ICT to the Socio-economic development of every nation. He stated that Kano ICT Park would have potentials patronage from north, west and east Africa because the park will serve as an “Industrial clusters”. The Professors further explained that user and supplier relationship would develop as the result of the ICT Park. “We use the internet and other ICT materials, we buy software and hardware facilities imported from abroad, with ICT Park established in Kano these would be produced here since manufacturing companies like the MS Corporation, HP, Oracle, Zinox would be based here”. Prof. Abdullah stated. In terms of exportation, the Prof. said that Kano would be sourcing point because soft and hardware, devices, microchips and other ICT materials would be assemble at the park and neighboring countries like Chad, Niger, Cameroon etc would be exporting from the park here in Kano.
Still from the academia Prof. Isa Diso presented a paper at the occasion titled “The importance of ICT power to the success of Kano state ICT Information Communication Technologies the immediate, intermediate and hyteck”. The Prof argued that ICT infrastructure is necessary but that does not mean development. In two days society according to the Prof. People should be talking about knowledge not digital divide. “There is information divide” I.S. Diso explained “and that involves freedom of information, quality education, and cultural difference serving as roadblocks to ICT”. The Prof. observed that these must be appropriately tackled through creating knowledge in the ICT knowledge utilization, knowledge dissemination and so on.
Alhaji Adamu Amshi of Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) described ICT as the fastest growing industry in the world. And there exist a wide digital divide between the western nations and the third world countries. According to Amshi, to anticipate this challenge all school should be provided with trained computer teachers and computer training should begin at primary school as level, Alh. Amshi referred this strategy as the, “catch them young” approach.
Further, ICT has been described as the one of the UK’S most important economic development indices. Mr. Patrick of the Department of International Development (DFID) made this known at the occasion. He also expressed his satisfaction at the way Kano State Government has risen up to the challenges of the new economic development strategies like the education based ICT.
In an in depth presentation made by Dr. Bashir Galadanchi, Adviser to the Kano State Governor on Education and Information Technology, the participants comprehend the wisdom behind Kano ICT Park. In the paper title; ICT from concept of reality, Dr. Galadanchi unveiled how ICT can create new business opportunities, add value to mature companies, generate knowledge base tools, and enhance the synergy between Universities and companies among other opportunities. Bashir Galadanchi further lamented that ICT involve so much money as an economic development and therefore suit Kano state economy. Galadanchi profound reasons for establishing ICT park in Kano that involves Kano being the economic nerves of the West Africa Sub-Sahara, has a reasonable reputation in commercial activities. Based on these new business opportunities in the ICT sector can be used to restore Kano’s economic supremacy. Furthermore, Dr. Galadanchi said there are business opportunities in ICT sectors that can enhance socio-economic development. For example, MS Corporation is setting out one of its testing Lab in Kano for various ICT researches and production, opportunity in software development, design, development, out sourcing service; data entry, software, research and development, website design and man power training. Galadanchi explain the benefit of ICT that involves revenue generation from ICT business, employment creation, leading to other business contributing the economic burst. The Advisor concluded that ICT seem the way to restore Kano economy.