Leading Information and Communications Technology (ICT) experts have started setting agendas and giving creative outlooks this year.
According to the President of the Association of Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ATCON), Engineer Olusola Teniola, there is need for more “Industry partnerships in the form of alliances that will create a stronger sector that is better prepared for Fintech Industry 4.0, which can lead the growing but latent mobile money payments system”.
The expert further raised hopes that government would accelerate the licencing of the remaining Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos), and that there should be the immediate non-deviation from the original Nigerian Broadband Plan 2013.
According to him, “Every hand on deck is required by all stakeholders in getting us as a nation back on track. Far too much time had been lost in talking about the digital journey and not enough energy has been spent walking on the path to our chosen destiny. I’m hopeful that NCC is fully aware of the challenges and we as an industry look to 2018 to catch up and ensure that every citizen has affordable access to high speed Internet”.
In his review of the sector and vision for this year, the Director-General of Delta State Innovation Hub, Chris Uwaje, said despite the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI), and meaningful contributions to GDP, the ICT had serious shocks in 2017 and need to do more work on creative thinking and innovation on multi-layers of national challenges requiring intensive multi-discipline and multi-tasking solutions.
According to him, “The major cause of the decline which was undertaken in furtherance to national security was the regulatory hammer on one of the major Network Service Providers -leading to a distressed disruption of the ICT sector.”
Uwaje traced key development challenges that frustrated the industry to delays in the appointment of Board members in most ICT MDAs at Federal and State levels.
He said these disruptive tendencies contributed to stagnation of ICT companies and loss of jobs -leading to massive migration of the youths out of Nigeria (to Libya for example).
Just like undue delays characterized issues bordering on broadband deployment in 2017, both indigenous and international industry players had started calling on the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Communications Minister to start very early in the matter.
According to the Managing Director of Huawei Nigeria, Kevin Li, one of the first good steps that can come from the government this year will be a strategic decision to fasten broadband penetration by driving massive investment in that direction.