Mixed reactions have continued to trail the Kwara State Government’s N500 million Harmony Hub Computer Village project launched recently in Ilorin by the state governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that while several digital entrepreneurs in the state applauded the initiative, other residents of the state expressed reservations about it.
Wale Bakare, an Ilorin-based online marketer and digital content developer, disclosed that the initiative is a welcome development and it would develop the state in the area of information and communication technology.
Mr. Bakare, a graduate of University of Ilorin and 2013/2014 Google ambassador, explained that Kwara State lags behind in Nigeria’s technology revolution and the new computer village will push the state to the forefront of the revolution, give opportunities to budding entrepreneurs and growing the economy of the state.
“I can tell you without mincing words that Kwara State is one state in Nigeria where less technology-oriented activities take place. Most times when I need gadgets, I always travel down to Lagos. So I believe this computer village would help the state technologically, provide opportunities for entrepreneurs like me and increase the state internally generated revenue.”
A software engineer at Challenge phone mart, Abiodun Azeez, also expressed optimism about the proposed village, calling on government to ensure that the project is pursued to a conclusive end without being abandoned half-way.
Mr. Azeez, an indigene of Oke-ode in Ifelodun Local Government Area of the state, however, advised the government to ensure that such developmental initiatives are spread across other parts of the state.
“The proposed computer village is a good idea. Technology is the next big thing now. We only want to implore the government to ensure that the construction of the village is completed within a short time so we can all enjoy its benefits, especially at this austere period. The government should also consider locating such development oriented projects like this too in other parts of the state,” he said.
Adekeye Adeyinka, an Ilorin-based technology incubator hub facilitator and IT expert described the development as long overdue, saying that it is a good initiative coming at the right time. He however said that the new village would add to the growth of digital entrepreneurship in the state only if it focuses on knowledge development in the information technology industry and not just mere sales of computer accessories.
“Maybe I don’t know much about their aim but I see it as a plan to simply relocate the scattered areas that make up the computer village at Challenge and Unity to a more structured place. I hope there will be plans for knowledge development in the IT industry too, and not just mere sales of computer accessories,” he said.
A student of the Faculty of Information and Communication Sciences, University of Ilorin, Notiki Bello, told PREMIUM TIMES that the plan is unnecessary, stressing that the old technology hub at Challenge should rather be given a facelift.
“I think it is really not necessary. Challenge is the known hub in Ilorin. I do not think it should be changed but it could upgraded. Also, the space allotted for the new hub is really small. If truly there is going to be a technology boom in Kwara, that space won’t contain it,” he said.
Other indigenes of the state who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES condemned the initiative, stressing that it is borne out of misplaced priority.
“When you have difficulties paying salaries for months and workers are suffering while some are dying, is computer village project the next thing to embark upon?” Ayo Animashaun, a resident of Ilorin, lamented.
Another resident who identified himself as Babatayo Williams complained about the concentration of developmental projects in Ilorin at the expense of other parts of the state. He therefore called on the state government to address the issue.
“Government should address this imbalance. All major developmental projects in this state are in Ilorin. For instance, what stops them from siting this computer village in Offa or Omu-aran. The government should address this abnormality,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Kwara State Government has reiterated its commitment to the expansion of employment opportunities and entrepreneurial development in the state through the Harmony Hub computer village project.
According to a statement released on Thursday by the Chief Press Secretary to the Kwara State Governor, Abdulwahab Oba, Governor Ahmed disclosed that the computer village would directly employ about 600 youth when fully operational, apart from hundreds of indirect jobs that would be created in the process of its construction.
“The governor noted that the Computer Village which is estimated to cost N500 million would be funded through contractor financing as well as pre-sales or off-taker arrangements,” the statement said.