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Reasons Mba-Uzoukwu says ‘Advocacy, not a paid job’

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“The (Nigerian ICT) ecosystem grows under nurture. It needs to be inclusive and the trusted relationships are required to support serendipity and innovation. The professional bodies create the community, offer structure, rules and opportunity for engagement of ideas, products, services and people”.

These were the words of Mr. Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu (@8wells) in a recent Tweetchat organized by the Office for ICT Innovation & Entrepreneurship, OIIE, a subsidiary of NITDA, nurturing, cultivating & expanding ICT innovation & entrepreneurship in Nigeria (@ngrinnovation).

The Tweetchat was actually to assess the “Role of Professional Associations in Building an ICT Ecosystem”.

The tweet-guest- Mba-Uzoukwu is the Deputy President of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) and 2nd VP of Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON). He also sits on several boards and work in a number of NGOs largely in Education and Innovation Ecosystem-Building.

He runs three companies: InfoGraphics –for software solutions/services; GrandCentral – for technology strategy/project management and iX, for enterprise development.

He started by enumerating the ICT Associations in Nigeria and their specific mandates:

“Computer Professionals (Registration Council of Nigeria), [CPN] was established through Act No 49 of 1993 is charged with regulation, control/supervision of the computing profession and practice in Nigeria. It is the regulator not an association

“Then you have the umbrella body, the Nigeria Computer Society which covers the IT professional community through interest groups. NCS organises all professionals certified by CPN the regulator. It admits professionals as individuals and companies.

“Its role is to collate and harmonise the interests of the IT community, advocate for an enabling environment for the growth of the industry and generally support all stakeholders in designing policies and implementing programmes that grow the ecosystem”.

Critically, Mba-Uzoukwu said that building the tech ecosystem requires the cross-group collaboration and the open network that is enabled by NCS and its interest groups.

“NCS currently incorporates the following chartered interest groups representing sectors of the IT industry: Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Information Technology (Industry) Association of Nigeria (ITAN), Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN, Nigeria Women in Information Technology, (NIWIT) and National Association of Computer Science Students (NACOSS) to mention a few.

“Other are ITSSP for internet security professionals and another for professionals in Civil Service, Nigeria Information Technology Professionals in the Public and Civil Service (NITPCS). The interest groups evolve and are formed freely by members so long as certain criteria are met

What can the ICT professionals do to attract more members?

@8Wells: “This is a huge question and important. Membership begins with certification by CPN as a professional which is also a requirement by CAC for registration for a company in IT professional practice. Once certified, you simply apply to NCS or any of the chartered interest groups

Forms and process are available at https://t.co/XrvSQyqYjR  or https://t.co/mgz8ohbe8F or CPN. The certification and registration is a 24hr turnaround usually.

Objectively speaking how would you rate the ICT professional associations in Nigeria?

“Hmmm. How objective can I be? 🙂 I think that they have done very well in truth. From the outside, it is hard to appreciate the sacrifice that has been made over the decades. Advocacy is not a paid job – the people who work on behalf of the industry do so largely from their pockets.

“Travel, logistics, time to attend endless meetings, chasing flip-flops from one government to the next, pleading for donor support, It iover the decadesly.ce (NITPCS);nagement s not what one jumps out of bed in the morning excited to do… but it needs to be done by someone. It is also not appreciated by most. So, if you are looking to be popular, there are much easier ways! What have we achieved?

“A special Ministry for industry with a voice at the FG cabinet, a tremendously valuable agency in NITDA, a National IT policy, an IT cadre in the civil service, attention to special interests like Women in IT, students, the physically challenged, focus on IT security, Broadband policy… A vibrant ecosystem that connects all the parts and advocates for all regardless of location, age or other demographics.

Has the ICT professional association body been a fundamental component in building Nigerian’s ICT ecosystem?

“Absolutely! We have a single voice that is driving policy and positioning Nigeria as an investment destination for foreign/local capital. The ecosystem grows under nurture. It needs to be inclusive and the trusted relationships are required to support serendipity and innovation.

“The professional bodies create the community, offer structure, rules and opportunity for engagement of ideas, products, services and people. An ecosystem is a biological concept so it is easy to see that if the nurture is not practiced, you get destruction instead of symbiosis

“In the professional bodies, we get to know each other better, resolve issues, reach consensus on what works for all, create synergies & love. It is not easy to build a community or maintain it: there are always challenges, disagreements conflicts of interest,…but the ecosystem we have today in all its diversity, and including those of you who are not yet our members 🙂 is the outcome of the work of professional bodies and stakeholders engaging themselves symbiotically. Anywhere you find a thriving tech ecosystem, there are active professional bodies

“From your own view, do you think Nigeria needs more ICT Professional associations?

Most definitely! The industry is the most dynamic in any economy and change requires flexibility. When we created NCS, there were 4 interest groups, today we have 8 and more forming inside and outside of NCS. We work with all for good!

How can synergy be introduced amongst ICT professional bodies in Nigeria?

“I think there is already synergy as illustrated in the diagram below. There is still much more to do to activate the lines, build inclusion. NCS was created out a huge conflict between bodies that was hampering progress. We sat together and resolved our differences in the interest of the ecosystem.

“What is not illustrated are those stakeholders like independent and/or informal groups. We work with all, value openness as a growth driver.

“Vulnerability opens doors to trust, which builds value through engagement encouraging collaboration and fostering serendipity and innovation

To be continued next week (Monday)…