Following consolidating trade relations between India and Nigeria in the last couple of years and since the emergence of knowledge economy driven by Information and Communications technology (ICT), indications emerged at the end of the two-day Indo-Africa ICT Expo in Lagos that Nigeria is now set to enjoy fortunes.
Lead in the upcoming gains includes an estimated inflow of over technology transfer from India, leading global champions in ICT.
The Indo-Africa ICT Expo which opened September 6th in Lagos with over 3,000 delegates from across Africa was the third in the series.
Stemming with its already strong presence in Africa and Nigeria in particular, India, through the Expo is seeking stronger ties with Nigeria in particular, and has therefore offered its assistance in all areas of technology.
In his opening remarks, Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu who led the ministers from India, Ghana and top officials from Ethiopia, Rwanda and other African countries expressed the country’s readiness to partner with India in all possible areas to achieve a digital economy Nigeria.
Shittu, who allayed fears of stakeholders in the ICT industry about the Indians coming to hijack the industry, said the coming of the Indians was sequel to discussions he had with the Indian business community in Geneva early this year, where they promised to come and invest $4 billion in the Nigerian IT industry.
As part of India’s commitment to Nigeria, Shittu said India is also financing a solar-based rural electrification project that would cover 1000 rural areas in Nigeria. The Minister however, used the opportunity to invite Indians to invest in the key Nigerian ICT projects, which include the establishment of ICT University and ICT development bank to cater to the specific financing needs of the ICT industry in Africa’s biggest market.
Earlier in his opening address at the conference, Sanjay Nayak, Co-chairman of India’s Telecom Equipment & Services Export Promotion Council (TEPC), said India remains the ideal partner for Africa as it shares the same vision and mission for technology growth. According to him, India has developed quality technologies well-crafted to meet the needs of countries in the African continent, and which they can leverage on at competitive price.
India, Nayak said, has the lowest telecom tariff rates in the world as a result of its cutting edge technologies. “We have end-to-end solutions, which are well suited for African needs” he said.
India’s Minister of Communications, Manoj Sinha, said the third edition of the Indo-Africa ICT Expo in Lagos has special significance, not only for India and Nigeria, but also for the entire Africa, adding that the success of the first two editions held in Kenya gave the organizers the confidence to shift the focus to West Africa.
“I strongly believe that the vast experience gained by India in setting up of ICT infrastructure can be leveraged by the governments as well as the private business enterprises in Africa. To explore synergies on the ground in ICTs, more than 50 ICT companies from India are participating in this ICT Expo” he said.
Citing the key capabilities of Indian companies and what they can offer Nigeria, the Minister said that India companies have developed the engineering capabilities and experience with smart innovations.
“They have the ability to train employees at scale; innovative business models at low cost. This makes them well-positioned to support the booming African ICT sector” he said.
According to the Indian Minister, India and Africa are having similar demographic and ICT usage profile and should therefore work together to achieve common goal of establishing digital economy in respective countries.
“We are fully committed to share our ICT experiences, expertise and software skills with other countries in the developing world. India is also willing to explore opportunities of financing the emerging opportunities”.
The organisers, TEPC, is working in conjunction with the National Association of Software and Service Companies, (NASSCOM), which is the premier trade body and the chamber of commerce of the IT-BPM industries in India.
The TEPC stated that the vision of a knowledge based society “is built on an edifice where IT and Telecommunications merge,” adding that “rapid technological convergence has already established a symbiotic relationship between the development strategies of IT and telecommunications. IT flourishes on the telecom-network and in turn permits modern day telecommunications to use sophisticated IT-software.”
The Council says as Africa is among the fastest growing markets worldwide, improving macroeconomic indicators, conducive business environment, larger, younger and more affluent population, rising middle class – all are strong indicators of not only a source of capital but also of job creation, skills development, technology transfer, infrastructure development, responsible governance and most of all –sustained growth that eventually will lead to transformation of African economies!”
Other ministers at the conference include Mr. Vincent Sowah Odotel, Deputy Minister of Communications, Ghana and Mr. Getachew Negash Tekla, State Minister of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.
Dignitaries at the inauguration of the conference include Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, former executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission who is chairman of Openmedia Group, Mr. Olusola Teniola, President of the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman of Association of Licensed Telephone Operators (ALTON) and Mr. Tayo Adeniyi, President of the Information Technology Association of Nigeria (ITAN), as well as Chief Charles Okeke, chairman of the IT/Telecom Trading Group of the National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, (NACCIMA) and Mr. Ahmed Ojikutu, President of the Computers and Allied Products Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN).