My personal view of how we can advance tech-wise is not necessarily the number of smartphone users or the number of people on social media. I tend to look at things more differently and for me, statistics such as how many young Nigerians are actively profiting from the digital economy or how many jobs have been created by start-ups leveraging technology to solve problems is one of them. While other developments such as the number of users and the likes are important, they are secondary in my humble opinion.
In this column, on January 12, 2020, I wrote on the topic, “Expectations for tech in Nigeria this year”. In that piece, I stated clearly some basic things that needed to be done in a bid to grow the ecosystem at an exponential rate but then, without certain supportive infrastructure firmly put in place, all those expectations that I mentioned in that piece would not come to fruition.
Sound and solid infrastructure are the primary drivers of all the economies around the world as the availability of certain key infrastructures are determinants of growth in countries all over the world.
On this side of the globe, we have had to contend with a lot of infrastructural deficiencies and this has continued to hinder our growth as a people over the years. It is not encouraging to note that most of our infrastructure built in the 1960’s and 1970’s are now dilapidated and moribund, while many others are outright obsolete. Many are also abandoned, halfway into being built and these today are what we refer to as white elephant projects. Moreso, our maintenance culture in Nigeria is nothing to write home about.
Most of the infrastructure we build requires maintenance at some point to keep them in shape to enable them to continue to deliver positively for the progress of the country, through their usage. All these will always hinder our progress and achievements in technological feats.
It is obvious that Nigeria is reaping, only a fraction of what it should in terms of the potential that abound in its digital economic ecosystem and will need to develop and implement strategies that will drive up investments to develop a dynamic and transformative digital economy. The bottom line is that we should build the necessary infrastructure that we need, to move us forward and device a system of maintenance culture to keep the ecosystem going.
Two key infrastructures required to be put in place are the provision of broadband connectivity across the country and then electricity. It is no gainsaying the fact that these two critical infrastructures have eluded Nigeria, thus far. Broadband connectivity and uninterrupted power supply should not, only, be provided, but these should come at cheaper rates, to make them accessible to many people.
Taking the case of broadband connectivity that has eluded us, thus far, due to the Right of Way pricing controversy between the States and the telcos, which the states are pricing too high, for instance, it is unfortunate that, some states are pricing this, at very high rates. This has caused many of the telcos, to slow down on laying the required fibre cables, to enable the unleashing of the much-needed broadband connectivity, across the country.
Good a thing, though that, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, met with the State Governors in Abuja, on January 22, 2020. The meeting also had in attendance, Executive Vice Chairman/ CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta,Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, Kashifu Inuwa; and — Finish Reading on the Punch