2018: Year of unpredictable economic growth for ICT

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By Bukola Olanrewaju

Despite the forecast of unstable economy in the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector in the year ending, the industry still emerged one of the top economic contributory sectors in the country.

This upsurge is due to economic-driven policies formulation and implementation the sector experienced in the year ending.

Speaking with Nigerian NewsDirect, the President of Computer and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN), Mr. Ahmed Ojikutu noted that 2018 has been a good year for the ICT industry in terms of policies and innovations.

Similarly, the Registrar/secretary to Council, Computer Professional Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN), Mr. Allwell Achumba also noted that 2018 had been a pleasurable year with lots of innovations, sensitization on Internet of Things, big data and Block Chain technology.

According to him, the year has attracted a lot of investments from both the local and the international vendors and dealers.

ICT companies’ adoption of local content

According to Achumba, one thing worthy of mentioning is the signing of the executive order 003 and 005,

“In Feb 2018, the President signed an executive order 005 mandating government agencies and parastatals in any technology solutions field to give priorities to Nigeria in any field of technological solutions both science and engineering. Jobs should be given to Nigerians rather than expatriates or foreigners.

“The order should be thoroghly enforced to the greater benefit of the citizens and development of the industry and economy at large.”

Another industry expert expressed that the signing of the executive order 003 and 005 is a welcome and well applauded development in the industry in 2018.

On ICT contribution to GDP

Speaking further, Ojikutu stated that “it is evident during the period Nigeria went into recession, the ICT industry grew in terms of contribution to GDP. The Financial Technology sector, hardware and software sector, innovation sector experienced growth. 2018 has been a very good year for this industry.”

In the month of November, 2018, reports have it that President Muhammadu Buhari stated that Information Communications Technology (ICT)  has contributed 11.81 per cent to Nigeria’s economic growth in the second quarter of this year.

The figure was quoted to be 1.81 per cent above the 2017 statistics.

Surpassing 30% broadband penetration?

The Federal Government National Broadband Plan 2013-2018 set a target of 30 per cent penetration to be achieved by end of 2018.

However, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said the country’s broadband penetration stood at 30.9 per cent as at November 2018, surpassing the 30 per cent target by the National Broad Band Plan.

In his words, Ojikutu said, “The growth recorded for internet penetration and subscribers in Nigeria is noteworthy; also the free WiFi in computer village has encouraged better usage for productive innovations.

“Records showed that Nigeria moved from about 73 million (2 years back) to 103 million as at July 2018”, Ojikutu noted.

In addition, Achumba applauded the current level of internet and broadband penetration in Nigeria.

“It is a good thing that we are able to meet up with the broadband penetration target set for 2018 and to cap it up, we surpassed this”, Achumba said.

Furthermore, the Chairman of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Engr. Gbenga Adebayo    also said, the meeting up of the targeted broadband penetration is a one good thing about the year.

“This is a major milestone for the sector”, Adebayo stated.

Challenges faced by start ups

However, Ojikutu posited that ability to convert start ups innovations and ideas to commercially viable enterprise have not been easy in 2018.

“Start ups should be supported even though NITDA is doing a lot in these aspects. A lot of work still need to be done”, he advised.

Government policies

“We should face the hardware and the software market. Hubs like computer village, Abuja GSM market should be encouraged more, people should be trained by experts”, Ojikutu pointed out.

On the other hand, Adebayo stated that by and large the policies have been stable this year with a friendly regulatory environment.

“Even though its seems the regulatory body was a bit harsh on some of the operators during the course of the year but it has helped in the stability of the network which in turn help the regulator and operators to produce a good result better than 2017”, Adebayo clarifies.

“Looking at the economy today, telecom remains one major infrastructure that drives the economy.

“As an industry, we’ve done very well, in spite of the fact that telecom sector operates within the same ecosystem as every other sector, we’ve been able to strive better, support the system and serve the government better both in terms of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and security of the economy”, Adebayo connoted.

FINTECH-driven world

The Lagos Business School revealed that 43 per cent of Nigerians are financially excluded.

In its financial inclusion report, which was launched in Lagos in the month of August 2018, LBS noted that only 49 per cent of Nigerians owned bank accounts.

Furthermore, the Deputy Director, Development Finance Office of the CBN, Adedeji Adebisi has also said  there are approximately 40.1 million financially excluded bankable Nigerians while 56.3million are financially served and included representing above average success of 58.4 percent people in Nigeria

As regards the growth of financial technology (Fintech) in 2018, Adebayo analyzed that, it is a known fact that some telecommunications operators have expressed interest to broaden and deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria

On this issue, he stated that, in dispensation of mobile banking next year, there are ongoing plans  by some telcos to launch mobile money.

“The milestone our sector (telecommunication) aims to achieve is 90 million people inclusive by the year 2019.

“We believe that our sector will be able to provide more inclusiveness that the banking sector”, Adebayo said.

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