ICT Clinic (Punch Newspaper)

Exploring opportunities in information technology industry [ICT Clinic]

One of the words I have used quite frequently on this column is ‘disruption’. We wake up every day witnessing one form of disruption or the other, changing our world as we know it. A few days ago, we woke up to the announcement of an open-source platform, called Libra, being pushed by 22 organisations and Calibra by Facebook that will seat on blockchain technology. I don’t need a prophet to tell me that this singular move will change the face of the financial industry in unimaginable ways. Since the announcement, I have been wondering what would become of our ‘conservative’ banking industry, that is only beginning to innovate, thanks to fintechs.

Well, I am of the opinion that investment in the development of the information technology industry and human capital development is the way to go. Each time I listen to those in authority talk about how agriculture can be used to improve our economy, it makes me giggle, not because I do not believe in the capacity of the agricultural industry but because we sadly don’t understand that the type of agriculture that wins today is one that integrates and leverages technology big time. Take Israel as an example, a country with a geography that is naturally not conducive for agriculture but has evolved into a powerhouse that contributes to feeding the world. According to www.israel21c.org, Israel’s large and growing precision ag-tech sector comprises more than 450 companies offering advanced data-collection and analysis technologies for more efficient and productive farming.

The point I am trying to make is that information technology, as it were, cuts across every aspect of our existence and this should give us an insight that as long as the world exists, the IT industry will continue to grow in leaps and bounds. In 2014, the International Data Corporation predicted that IT will have generated 5.8 million new jobs in the coming four years. IDC also predicted that the IT sector will be a powerhouse in driving countries, especially those from the third world, out of economic turmoil, if the opportunities that technology presents are fully explored.

Gartner, another top global research company, has predicted that IT spending will reach $3.8tn in 2019, with an increase of 3.2 per cent from 2018. The Research Vice-President at Gartner, John-David Lovelock, said, “IT is no longer just a platform that enables organisations to run their businesses. It is becoming the engine that moves the business. As digital business and digital business ecosystems move forward, IT will be the thing that binds the business together.”

How much of the spending has the Nigerian IT sector been able to capture? Have IT experts and enthusiasts tapped into the seemingly unexplored opportunities that this industry presents? In 2012, IT analysts predicted that the Nigerian IT industry has got the potential of being valued at $6bn, after the sector created a net worth of around $2bn in the first quarter of the same year. In the same year, the overall IT market was valued at over $150bn, with a projected growth of 10 per cent over the global average.

With all the above, we are safe to say that Nigeria has the capacity to play a vital role in the growth of the African continent, with the right IT skills, to explore the many opportunities it offers. Over the past decade, the IT sector has taken in over two million Nigerians in the core of the ICT industry and indirectly creating more job opportunities in another sector of the Nigerian economy.

Around 95 per cent of the software used in Nigeria is imported. Of the $1bn strong sector, Nigeria is — Finish Reading on the Punch