May 20, 2024
Nigeria: Telecommunications powerhouse, rated 11th globally in internet penetration, 7th in mobile phone usage — Danbatta
Nigerian Telecoms Sector home to 2 valuable listed firms with over N10.45trn market capitalization
– By Alison Godswill

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Nigeria: Telecommunications powerhouse, rated 11th globally in internet penetration, 7th in mobile phone usage — Danbatta

By Eyo Nsima

Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said Nigeria has been rated as 11th and 7th globally in terms of internet penetration and mobile phone usage, respectively.

Speaking at the Emerging Technology Forum, which has “Contextualizing the Network Readiness Index for the Nigerian” as theme, he said: “Nigeria is a telecommunications powerhouse, with 82% of the continent's telecom subscribers and 29% of the continent's internet consumption. Our nation rates eleventh globally in terms of internet penetration and seventh in terms of mobile phone usage. Despite these remarkable metrics, the fact that our Network Readiness Index (NRI) ranking for 2022 is 109th out of 131 countries is both humbling and challenging?

“The NRI is a guiding metric that measures the role and impact of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). It explores the performances of 131 economies in four key categories: technology (infrastructure), governance, people, and impact. As agents of social and economic transformation in our nation, prioritizing network readiness is not only a strategic necessity but a mandate.

“Throughout our deliberations, we will engage in thought-provoking forum discussions that explore the foundational pillars of NRI, through a number of presentations by renowned professionals in the technology landscape.

“As we convene here today, the innovation symphony resonates with our common goals. The Emerging Technology Forum acts as a beacon, directing us towards the intersection of transformation and advancement.”

He also said: “In recent years, the Nigerian telecommunications industry has embarked on a remarkable growth trajectory, solidifying its position as an engine of economic growth. The enhancement of digital access and the expansion of our networks have left an indelible impact on the lives of our citizens. While we celebrate these accomplishments, we are keenly aware that our dynamic society requires even higher connectivity, reliability, and accessibility standards. The surge in data utilisation, the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), the advent of artificial intelligence, and the emergence of cutting-edge technologies highlight the urgent need for ongoing network surveillance and expansion.

“To navigate this era of transformation, we must embrace innovation, make strategic investments, and cultivate a growth-friendly ecosystem. This platform is our gateway to innovative and disruptive solutions that can positively transform our industry. By engaging in conversations about new technologies, collaborating with global best practices and subject-matter experts, and pooling our insights, we open the door to unimaginable future possibilities. Let us grasp this opportunity to investigate emerging technologies, envisage their potential applications, and determine how they can be leveraged to solve our specific challenges.

“Let me get down to the substance of the forum by stating the problem at hand: The global data collected by the NRI team reveals that digital transformation is a  lobal imperative in order to maximize the social and economic effects of the digital era. It  can create new inequalities which can hinder the ability of younger generations to engage in the digital economy, but also remains a powerful way to do more with less at all levels of income. Formal education is evolving, and metrics are important to support informed policymaking. This requires reskilling and upskilling opportunities to be available, accessible, and affordable in order to have more inclusive and sustainable economies and societies.”

Similarly, Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, Engr. Ubale Maska, said: “We live in rapidly changing times where the proliferation of digital transformation and the use of ICTs are inevitable. With the world becoming increasingly interconnected and our economic activities relying heavily on the digital space, it has become essential for countries to be at the forefront in terms of technology adoption. This is why the Network Readiness Index (NRI) is so important to measure the progress of a country as it relates to ICTs and digital transformation.

“Nigeria’s Network Readiness Index is a strong indicator of how the country is adapting to the digital transformation that is happening all over the world, and will help us access our progress and position on the global digital train. This forum seeks to examine the different barriers and key drivers of emerging technologies as far as the Nigerian telecommunications industry is concerned.

“We intend to explore the challenges that are present, and to discuss solutions to ensure that the country is making the most of the digital transformation.In the end, this forum should provide us with valuable focal areas of discourse,  with the hope of discovering innovative and effective ways of improving the Network Readiness Index in Nigeria.

“Furthermore, the discussion should be encouraged to discuss how the NRI can be used as a key tool for assessing the development of the telecommunications industry, and how it can be used to inform decision-making relating to technology and network readiness.”

Also speaking, the head of New Media, NCC, Dr. Chidi Diugwu, said: “The NRI, widely used for monitoring access and impact of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), is an invaluable tool for identifying gaps, stimulating action, structuring policy dialogue, and tracking ICT readiness over time. The Tech Industry is a focal point of Nigeria’s growth, demonstrated by the recent investments in infrastructure and digital services. Statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics indicate that Nigeria’s ICT sector contributed up to 14.07% to the total GDP in the first quarter of 2020, and this had grown to 17.47% by Q1 2023.

“The Federal Government’s focus on the Tech Industry, particularly on fostering the advancement and growth of technology especially emerging and new technologies is highly commendable. This is one of the objectives of the NCC in its strategic pillar: Promotion of DIGITAL ECONOMY and is cascaded to the New Media and Information Security Department as one of its critical mandates. This goal of enhancing the productivity ecosystem is expected to result in a significant boost to the nation’s innovative capabilities in the coming years.

“There has been remarkable development in Nigeria’s ICT infrastructure in recent years, with skyrocketing mobile penetration rates, and internet connectivity expanding drastically. The Commission’s commitment to enhance network infrastructure, coupled with the private sector’s contributions has significantly transformed our connectivity landscape. It is crucial to note that the NRI is not just about the latest technologies or high-speed internet access. It also includes elements such as affordability, digital skills, and the availability and adoption of digital services in various sectors of the economy.

“Nigeria’s performance on the NRI index from 2020 to 2022, as reported by the Potulans Institute, indicates a mixture of improvement and challenges that still persists. Thus, applying the Network Readiness Index in the Telecommunication Industry is of paramount importance in our current digital ecosystem. Utilising the insights it brings allows us to amplify our strengths, address our challenges, and propel our nation into a brighter digital future. However, despite the importance of NRI in channelling the strengths and opportunities of our tech ecosystem, it is imperative that the metrics are localized to reflect our current realities.

“As we move forward, let us embrace the insights offered by the NRI to guide our policies, investments, and collaborations to enable us harness the potentials of emerging technologies, investing in human capital, and fostering innovation that will unlock new opportunities, bridge the digital divide, and create a prosperous and inclusive digital future for Nigeria.”

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