Digital Roadmap In An Era Of Change | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

IT & Telecomms, Latest News

Digital Roadmap In An Era Of Change

Posted: Mar 31, 2016 at 2:45 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) stakeholders have shown the way on how to improve on the Nigerian digital ecosystem so as to align it with best global practice and improve on national security and economy.

According to the top ICT stakeholders, if Nigeria embraces the digital life in all aspects, the country would be able to face its security challenges, improve on the economy and ensure that all are involved in digital ecosystem.

There was an agreement amongst them of the need to provide the right technology mix; infrastructure, networks and agency platforms and policy framework that are necessary for the achievement of the talked about digital life.

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, who was represented by the Director of Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, was the first to take the floor when he assured that the regulator is expediting actions to ensure development of the country’s broadband infrastructure target. Broadband is one of the main enabler for achieving a country’s digital life expectations.

Getting Infrastructure Right

Danbata said that broadband is getting global attention as the next big thing that will not only drive communications, but the global economy of the future. In his view, broadband also occupies a very prominent space for the future of bridging the digital divide. “We are in a hurry to catch up with this desirable objective and therefore making every effort on to ensure that we succeed”.

Currently, broadband penetration in Nigeria is estimated at 10 percent broadband, a position seen as far from the 30 percent target proposed in 2013 by the National Broadband Plan developed to promote nationwide spread of high-speed Internet services.

Danbatta believes that the vision is achievable underscoring that “this is why it occupies a very important place in the 8-Point Agenda of his administration, which have been sufficiently discussed with the media, key stakeholders and international community”.

He assured that his team will strive to ensure Nigeria is not left out of broadband as “we are making every effort to make our citizenry enjoy the full benefits of broadband in the foreseeable future”.

One of such initiatives is the proposed auction of six slots of 2.6GHz frequency spectrum scheduled for May 16, this year in Abuja. Winners of these auctions are expected to achieve nationwide roll out for wholesale and retails wireless broadband services across the country “within a couple of years”.

Danbatta hopes this will energise competition at that level and force stakeholders in this segment of the market to wake up. “We are aware that the market data provisioning market is thriving with more than 97 million Nigerians being very active on the Internet.

According to him the Infrastructure licenses, of which two were already issued for Lagos and North Central Zones, are being refreshed for the provision of similar licenses for other remaining zones as already earmarked by the Commission.

”We are all aware that we have some form of broadband in the existing networks, which are limited sometimes by location. They may not be at the level desired at the current speed of broadband but we trust that the mobile service providers in Nigeria have what it takes to optimise their networks and deploy infrastructure to upgrade their services,” Danbatta said.

”As a regulator that is very much in tune with the environment under which services are delivered in Nigeria, we have also engaged in a number of interventions, and advocacies, aimed at easing some of the many challenges confronting the industry. Cases of right-of-way and multiple taxations are very topical in this direction. We are engaging some of the key stakeholders that are critical to resolving some of these challenges”, he added.

In her contribution Director, Digital Business at Etisalat Nigeria, Adia Sowho, canvassed four key elements that would ensure that Nigeria achieves the much desired digital financial services and inclusion and align it with the emerging global trend.

For best practice in healthy and robust Digital financial services, Sowho said there must be standards for money exchange across operators, agents and products, there should be distribution network that accepts and process clients’ transactions and range of products that address the key pain points and creates value in the community.

She said stakeholders, including regulators, telecommunication companies and banks, will need to evolve to stay relevant. According to her the regulator needs to intervene to foster the right conditions for collaboration in the digital financial services ecosystem, Telcos would have to continue to provide the right tools, such as SmartPhones and mobile broadband network that radically changes how customers expect to interact with financial services, while the banks need a new client-centric and digital mindset to increase customer base and deposits while reducing cost to acquire and serve.

The future of digital financial services, which includes digital banking, digital wallet and digital commerce, is imminent and this could only be achieved and maximize benefits through new partnership models driven by customer and merchant needs.

Inclusive Digital Nation

Jide Awe, Chairman of Conferences at Nigerian Computer Society (NCS), who represented President of NCS, Professor Sola Aderounmu, said fresh innovative thinking, knowledge and innovation culture is essential to creating an inclusive, healthy, forward looking digital nation.

According to him technology should be used to address local needs, promote local innovation, while technology champions with outstanding impact in priority areas should be celebrated and government should form strategic partnership with the private sector and adopt multi-stakeholder and collaborative approach in policy formulation and implementation.

He said there should be a coordinated combination of digital public service delivery, online citizen engagement and government automation through e-government to improve government efficiencies, block leakages and corrupt practices, track activities and enhance government revenue.

Local content And National Security

On national security, Awe said 21st Century Concept of National Security has gone beyond military security and now involve innovations in technology to address counterterrorism, cyber security, smart policing and identity management.

Also speaking at the event, Engr Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operator of Nigeria (ALTON), asked stakeholders to protect telecoms infrastructure because of their critical role for the Nigerian economy.

He underscored the pivotal role telecommunications plays in the lives and economic well-being of any country.

”The protection of our infrastructure is key, the industry has developed a lot of infrastructure which needs to be protected, therefore we must be able to protect this infrastructure in order to support other sector of the economy,” Adebayo told the forum.

The ALTON Chairman wants Nigeria to take a cue from the recent Brussel attack in Belgium where identities of perpetrators of the attacks have been seen because they have the infrastructure that was protected.

He however invited the media to play a vital role of propagating good contents about the telecoms sector noting that “nobody can report about the sector except the media.

According to him, “we understand the powers of the pen and we know that the media will stand to be counted when we discuss the progress made in this industry. We therefore will continue to count on the media for their support”.