By Emmanuel Afonne
The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) says it will collaborate with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for a successful takeoff of the African Centre on Technology, Enhanced Learning (ACETEL) – a unit of the institution.
The Vice Chancellor of NOUN, Professor Abdalla Adamu, who said this in Abuja on Monday at the inauguration of the ACETEL School, noted that when fully operational the centre among other digital learning would focus on courses that can combat internet fraud.
Adamu said that the World Bank had earmarked 8 million dollars for the running of the centre which is the first of its kind in West Africa where Doctor of Philosophy and Master’s Degree on courses related to ICT would be obtained.
“We have programmes associated with degree and we have programmes for those doing Masters and Phd in Cyber Security, Artificial Intelligence and Management Information System (MIS).
“But courses on internet fraud are targeted for just few months that people can read quickly and understand the basics of modern world technology and EFCC will be a facilitator on this.
“We have people called `Yahoo Yahoo’ boys that are internet scammers who scam people and get a lot of money from them and do all sorts of things with it and it is critical to include EFCC as partners to develop a short course on ethical use of internet.
“Having EFCC as a partner to the process will be a very good message to those who are using technology for other purposes,” Adamu said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, had earlier requested that such a course be introduced in the institution to fight against internet fraud and to curb the activities of “Yahoo Yahoo” boys.
Magu, represented by Dr Aminu Gusau, Director, Organisational Support, EFCC, identified NOUN and its ACETEL School as a critical stakeholder in the fight against crime in Nigeria.
“Institutions of learning like this one is the best place to start engaging youths as partners in the fight against crime.
“Whether we like it or not, NOUN and the ACETEL are real stakeholders in this fight against corruption and we are trying to see the best ways we can collaborate,” Magu said
Prof. Grace Jokhtan, Director in charge of the ACETEL, explained that the project which is a World Bank ICT project in NOUN, said that results of the programme were expected in four years.
She said the activities of the centre would focus on development of digital tools and solutions, skills in software development and mobile-based applications.
“The centre will also focus on research on digital policies and its main streaming in the public sector as well as building capacity with a focus on development of 21st century skills to produce digital experts in the development of cyber security tools.
“ACETEL has a faculty comprising seasoned academics from around the world and leading practitioners in the industries,” she said.
Jokhtan added that they were looking to develop digital expertise to drive economic growth and transformation in the West African sub-region and beyond.
President, Commonwealth of Learning, Vancouver, Canada, Professor Asha Kanwar, congratulated NOUN vice-chancellor for the inauguration of the ACETEL and said that they would continue to use technology to expand learning in Nigeria and other 52 member countries.
“Nigeria is a very active member of the Commonwealth and provides both financial and intellectual support, and we have enjoyed the cooperation of several institutions in Nigeria which NOUN is one of them.
“We share with NOUN the common goal of promoting quality education for all with the use of technology for education and we have seen NOUN grown from its early beginning to become one of the key mega universities in the Commonwealth.
“NOUN is the leader in Open and distance learning in the region and it is one of the regional centres of the Commonwealth and has played a major role in developing courses in advanced ICT skills.”
NAN also reports that the Nigerian Communications Commission, Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and mobile telecommunication companies are some of ACETEL partners.