ICT Clinic (Punch Newspaper)

Expectations for tech in Nigeria this year [ICT Clinic]

In my piece on this column, last week, I reviewed a few of my write-ups on the ICT Clinic column last year in the Sunday PUNCH.

Sometimes, the word “progress” can mean something swiftly done and sometimes it means a gradual process that takes time and strategic execution. It can also be likened to a layer of slab placed on top of each other, with an end product in view.

This week, I will be dwelling on three aspects of technology, where I would like to see some level of improvement, as we coast ahead into the new year, which also happens to be the beginning of a new decade.

The tech ecosystem remains a fertile fallow ground, where much still needs to be done, as I see the activities in that sector, as major drivers of and contributor to the country’s economy and growth.

What then are the three areas to be focused on to ensure that 2020 marks the beginning of another series of exponential growth in the tech ecosystem? Which areas do we need to beam the searchlight on in this new year?

From my observations of the tech ecosystem over the years, I am of the opinion that a lot of work should be done in these three areas by stakeholders in the ecosystem; namely: the telecom sector, the fintech sector and cybersecurity. These are highlighted below.

Telecom sector

Ever since the telecom sector birthed in Nigeria in 2001, it has always been on a steady growth path, as rising broadband penetration and investment in mobile internet networks supports a movement in that direction.

The tech ecosystem has, however, faced several challenges over the years and some few years back, it wrestled itself back into relevance, after the daunting economic recession in 2017.

One of my expectations in 2020 is the resolution of the nagging issue of the Right of Way, RoW, which has stalled the laying of fibre cables across the country due to the exorbitant rates charged by the state governments.

The laying of those cables is sine qua non to the provision of fast and cheaper broadband internet access across the length and breadth of this country.

It, therefore, becomes disturbing to hear that studies show that 14 state governors in Nigeria have increased the charges for the Right of Way in their domains by as much as 1,100 per cent. This is coming at a time that the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ibrahim, stated that he had written to state governors to comply with the National Economic Council’s resolution of the issue. It is obvious that this is counter-productive to the drive for the expansion of Internet broadband in Nigeria.

Nigeria currently has five submarine fibre optics cable networks that connect the country to the world at large and with it comes Internet broadband capacity of over 27Tbps.

The Internet broadband penetration at subscriber’s levels is, however, still somewhat low and the majority of the fibre optics networks in the country are concentrated in the urban areas thus, cutting out most of the rural areas.

A major milestone will never be reached if internet connectivity has not effectively penetrated the rural areas and we can never talk about nationwide connectivity, if some parts of the country are still neglected.

The state governments should therefore cooperate by resolving to bring down the Right of Way fees. — Finish Reading on the Punch

About the author

Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr

CFA hosts Tech Trends on Channels Television, writes the ICT Column in the Punch Newspapers & also blogs on cfagbata.com.

CFA currently serves as the African Regional Director of Founder Institute.

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