Monday, August 09, 2021 / 3:53 PM
/ Ottoabasi Abasiekong for WebTV / Header Image Credit: Technology Times
As Nigeria seeks to build a vibrant digital economy, a leading technology analyst has called for a state-level approach to driving broadband penetration.
Mr Shina Badaru, the Founder/Chairman of Technology Times, made this point while examining the topic "Rethinking Policy Strategies to Unlock Opportunities in Nigeria's Digital Economy".
He acknowledged the efforts of the Federal Government in developing a robust digital economy through the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy. Still, He stressed that if Nigeria achieves the scale, it must be a second-tier level through the States.
Badaru listed states like Lagos, Ekiti, Kaduna and Kwara that are investing in the broadband infrastructure and creating the enabling environment for the investments through reducing "right of way" charges as sub-nationals that should be emulated. He said Lagos, in particular, is big on investments in a "Smart-City" and is also leveraging technology for government services.
He called for close collaboration between the Federal and State governments in implementing the "National Broadband Master Plan" which will lay the framework for a thriving digital economy.
Looking at 20 years since the liberalization of the telecommunications industry, he said there had been remarkable growth in the Information and Communication Technology sector, ICT, which remains one of the biggest drivers of the Nigerian economy.
Since the entry of big telecommunications firms like MTN, Airtel, Globacom and Etisalat, significant investments, innovation, and transformation have been made in the industry.
He lauded the telcos, who, through the space of two decades, achieved a significant leap in telephone lines that moved from 500,000 in 2001 to over 187m by 2021, 140m+ internet users in 2021 currently 75m broadband connections in the country.
The renowned technology publisher commended the investors in the telecommunications industry, who defied all odds to exceed the services provided by the state operator NITEL (Nigerian Telecommunications Limited) to build a sub-sector supporting Nigeria's economy.
Providing further insight, he highlighted some of the sectors/sub-sectors of the economy that have benefitted from the telecommunications industry infrastructure, including financial services, creative industry, e-commerce, healthcare, hospitality, media, and education.
Speaking further, he called for an enabling regulatory environment that will continue to attract more investments in expanding the mobile network coverage across all the villages in the country. According to him, this would enable processes like seamless transmission of election results.
He called for the increased rollout of fibre optics in the country, citing the education system. He noted that students could experience an improved learning environment with greater access to relevant information.
Against the backdrop of a few conspiracy theories and controversies accompanying the deployment of the 5G networks, Badaru called on the government to engage stakeholders and improve public enlightenment on the opportunities it will bring to the economy. He called on Nigerians to embrace 5G as it already supports the fourth industrial revelations in countries that have adopted it.
He believed the decision by Federal Government to change the supervising ministry name from "Communications" to "Communications and Digital Economy" was instructive and provided a massive opportunity for Nigeria to leverage technology to diversify its revenue.