Post COVID-19: Nigeria Needs To Embrace Data to Spur A Robust Economy - Nsikak John

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Monday, May 25, 2020 / 4:03 PM / Bukola Akinyele for WebTV / Header Image Credit: LinkedIn; Nsikak John


There is a need for Nigeria to leverage its national data reservoir for application in shortcodes for people to report health cases during an emergency period like the novel Coronavirus pandemic. A technology and innovation expert, Mr, Nsikak John, noted during an interview on WebTV's Economy and Politics programme.  

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Speaking on how the 4th industrial revolution (4IR) is shaping the global and Nigerian economy, John saw 4IR as an unprecedented technological advancement. He was of the view that before talking about 4 IR the country must understand other industrial revolutions such as the code, twitter, and dotcom which were all internet technologies.


He said the printing press was a phenomenal innovation that changed the world between the  14  and 15th centuries, also currently 4IR with blockchains, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Machine Learning, Solar Energy amongst others creates a new global reality.


He cited the example of Gitoc bought by Microsoft at somewhere around US$7.5bn without staff, intellectual property, and assets. He was of the view that this is the type of technology innovation brought. According to him, it is challenging everybody to respond, it is challenging government, organization and individuals to respond. If we don't respond we will be disrupted.


He noted that 4IR is here to stay and we must embrace it and anyone that can leverage technology now can disrupt any industry.


Speaking on innovation hubs in Nigeria and how they adjust to new realities, he said it is an interesting type of technology, innovation, and digital transformation. John believed the global pandemic is a health challenge that depends on technology intervention. He commended the Fintech companies in the country for their effort at leveraging digital channels and providing platforms for corporations to continue business despite the COVID-19 challenges.  He noted that Innovation hubs offer integration and acceleration opportunities for  ventures  to thrive.


He was of the view that if there were more innovation the country would witness more ventures doing well. He saw innovation as a window of opportunity for tech companies to work with corporations to leverage digital technology to grow businesses. The technology buff noted that, Nigeria needs to fund ventures, ramp up capacity and also participate in what is emerging globally to support domestic ventures.

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On the issue of the $500m that came into Nigeria in Q1, 2020 by way of investment in technology we saw added financial contribution to the fintech space. He said there was a lot of traction in all technology. John said that, the global COVID-19 pandemic was a health issue and could seek recourse to technology solutions.


According to John, the challenges that the country was facing in technology was that it was leveraging data. He cited NCDC as an example and noted that its priority should be focused on innovation. He said, there was a gap in communication and this needed to be interrogated to gain a better command of response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. He said that leveraging data was very important and more ideas were needed from technology to support the Nigeria Centre for Disease and Control (NCDC).


He noted that the activities of the Ministry of Communication and Digital Technology have not had a substantial impact on influencing the application of technology to everyday challenges in the country. He was of the view that a lot of expectations surrounded the ministry.


He explained further that, "for government, especially a place like the ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, the challenge before them is to provide a framework for the economy and Nigerians to benefit from global technology evolution". John noted that during a time of the global pandemic, a national shortcode was a way of quickly reaching the ministry of health, and people would be able to report health cases faster. 


He said the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy should work with NCDC in a way to provide a coordinated approach to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic information and data gap.


He further said the ministry should spur the economy and help the creativity of young people, supporting other ministries, departments, and agencies to become digitally active thereby leveraging technology to improve their digital footprints and enhance efficiency. He was optimistic that Nigerians would leverage broader digital participation to enhance business efficiency and grow a stronger technology ecosystem.

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