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Why Nigeria and Africa lag behind in ICT

Posted by News Express | 12 February 2019 | 1,110 times

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•Communications Minister Adebayo Shittu

The response of most African countries to issues on technology is arguably top on reasons why African nations have remained poor. African governments have been known to look the other way each time recommendations are made globally in the technological domain, recommendations that can potentially affect nations’ economies.

It is also known that while governments elsewhere make genuine and sincere efforts at bettering their information and computer technology ICT infrastructures, many African countries scarcely attempt solving the sector’s problems. Most appallingly, some find ways of sapping whoever dares to invest in the sector, and where the governments venture into drawing up policies for the sector, they are at best implemented shabbily. Nigeria is a case in this stance.

Nigeria in the Digital Mobile Licence Auction of 2001 was paid $855 million by the first three GSM licencees. One would have expected government to plough back this fund into the sector to build backbone or invest in a cable system of its own to tackle, at least to an extent, the endless problem of lack of infrastructure in the sector. They did not and the investors had to come to the rescue.

Nigeria’s telecommunication standard has been evolving. High as it is today when benchmarked internationally; it has to be closely monitored to avoid a system crash. This is more because so much has been put into the attainment of the feat by several individuals, corporate organisations, governments and, most importantly, regulatory bodies in the sector. This is most pertinent as Nigeria is known to have, for many years, tried to develop its telecommunications network through investments from government resources but it has virtually failed. The private sector came to the rescue – all thanks to strict monitoring and directions by regulatory organizations that have always had in mind the balancing of the interests of the operators with that of subscribers landing at the mid position. The result is Nigeria deploying a telecommunications superstructure – the much needed backbone infrastructure that has made bandwidth locally and internationally both accessible and affordable.

We are also conscious of the fact that a significant segment of the Nigerian population is still unable to use computers and go online. This includes the population that lacks the necessary skills and competency to access, manage, integrate, evaluate, or create online information. It is also true that many of these non-adopters have strong concerns about the hazards of going online for reasons related to cyber privacy, security, identity theft or fraud. Yet, another category of the population are those who are simply very satisfied with their offline lifestyle, to the extent they consider internet to be a waste of time and resources. All these constitute impediments for people to embrace ICT and its huge benefits and its effects on the returns on the investing publics.

There is need to continually watch the unpredictability of the Nigerian market as with the rest of Africa. Viewed from the angle of the exceptional growth in data demand that has had a positive impact on average net adds and have continued to have a dilutive impact on Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). These interplays and the government regulatory roles of ensuring compliance while doing their part in security of sector investments, moderate and or proper taxation, access of way, among other sector challenges, are the mix on which News Express ICT Monitorshall continue to thrive.

Source: News Express

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