Digital Economy, Nigeria’s Next Crude Oil – Smile | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Digital Economy, Nigeria’s Next Crude Oil – Smile

Posted: May 26, 2015 at 12:12 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Emmanuel Okwuke / Lagos 


Following the nation’s economic downturn evident in dwindling oil revenue, budgets deficit, infrastructural decay, high unemployment rate, harsh business environment, corruption, amongst others, Smile Communications Nigeria Limited, the 4G LTE broadband provider, has described the Nigeria’s digital economy as huge and well positioned to take over as the next crude oil. This is because it is already a sector that is impacting all segments of the economy.

Managing Director, Smile Communications Nigeria Limited, Mr. Michiel Buitelaar, stated this recently while speaking during a panel discussion at the sixth (6th) Annual Pan-African 1:1 Investor Conference organised by Renaissance Capital in Lagos.

According to him, leveraging digital economy should be regarded as a sine qua non in sustaining the economy by the incoming administration of Muhammed Buhari.

‘Digital Economy’ was coined by Don Tapscott in 1995 to imply an economy chiefly triggered by digital computing technologies.

Mr. Buitelaar identified infrastructural advancement as the overriding factor for the immediate expansion of sectors such as agriculture, transportation, banking & finance, health-care/medicine, and education.

He said that Smile Communications aligns itself with the key statistics expected for the Nigerian Digital Economy by 2018 as released by the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology, especially for the emergence of an industry that is less fragmented.

According to the Miniostry’s target, the nation expects to attain 30 per cent broadband penetration by 2018 from the present less than 10 per cent.

The Smile MD said: “There are various advantages the digital economic providers have over the traditional. However, to make this happen faster, there are catalysts required for it to even drive other sectors outside the ICT. Digital economy will be the driver of the agricultural, transport, health-care/medicine, education, banking & finance, among others”.

He continued: “We do believe the new digital ICT will influence other sectors. For example, in agriculture; like I have seen in other countries, the efficiency and productivity in that sector, is very likely to explode once all the digital economy has entered into their arena.

“It is also our expectation that the impact will become more pronounced within the next ten years. For emphasis sake, sectors like agricultural, transport, health-care/medicine, education, commerce, in fact, the whole move of digitisation will impact the emerging economy and Nigeria’s economy is well positioned to make their journey better than many others”.

Speaking specifically on expected broadband impact on digital economy, Mr. Buitelaar, extolled the outgoing administration of President Goodluck Jonathan for approving the National Broadband Plan (NBP), expressing confidence in the Buhari government’s compelling posture for firm implementation of these plans.

He said: “I think the Federal Government is doing a quite well, especially, by releasing an NBP, but I will argue that the next Government continues with the plan in an even ‘forceful’ manner. Similarly, spectrum allocations should be looked at too; though technical, but very important in the nation’s quest for more ubiquitous broadband. There are sub-sectors that the broadband availability will immediately impact their operations such as the delivery viz a viz ecommerce, e-payment, education and other clusters of business. These are crucial reasons the digital economy should be allowed to blossom”.

“Having been here for six months, Nigeria is a wonderful country. At the same time, the incoming government should do something about the image of the country and its perception by the rest of the world. That alone is capable of convincing foreign investors about the country’s business climate.