Technology Is Changing Nigeria’s Business Environment – Braimah | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Technology Is Changing Nigeria’s Business Environment – Braimah

Posted: Jul 15, 2016 at 6:21 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Recently the Nigeria International Technology and Exhibition Conference (NITEC) 2016 was held in Lagos with the theme “The role of disruptive technologies in catapulting the African continent’s GDP. Ehi Braimah, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Neo Media and Marketing, spoke with Ikechi Nzeako at the event.


Why are you organising this event at this time?

The objective of organising the event is to promote Nigeria’s technology ecosystem and promote innovative ICT solutions. That way, we will encourage young technology entrepreneurs to become more creative like the young Nigerian entrepreneur that Mark Zuckerberg is supporting with $24 million. His company, a two-year-old start up, is a software developing company. The startup is going to grow big as the guy has set his goal and he is working very hard. So with that kind of example, we believe that we can create more of such Andelas. The name of the company is called Andela. He is a young man from Yaba in Lagos State. As I speak, he has over 200 engineers working for him. When you hear such stories, you get inspired and want to start a national conversation on technology. You bring the private sector, the government and these technology entrepreneurs together in what we call the “Tech Trinity”. Let us discuss technology, not only football; not only music and entertainment; not only movies and Nollywood. Let us talk about technology. Technology can grow the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Outside of oil and the money that is collected at the ports, the next biggest income earner is ICT. So when you have these facts, you begin to ask yourself how much do people know about happenings in technology.

What are the new trends in technology in the country?

There are new trends in technology because technology is always evolving. That is why we are talking about disruptive technology. We are talking about what technology is trending. Uber is using technology to drive its market. About five years ago, there was nothing like Uber, it is from America. After Uber we are talking about Whatsapp, we have Skype, we Snapchat. You have all kind of apps that you can download. These are innovations in the technology space. We are interested in those stories and we want to promote Nigerian technology entrepreneurs. We want to involve people outside of Nigeria; that is why we called the technology expo international. This is the first one and the response has been great and we will do more in the future. I believe that we should encourage our people to develop different ideas in technology that can be sold for a lot of money. Microsoft has concluded an agreement to buy Linked-In. These are the kind of things to see in the technology space in the country.

What is your assessment of the ICT space in the country?

My attitude is we are making progress. We did not have GSM until 2001; we are making progress from analogue to digital platform. We all have to be digitally compliant; we should be ready. You can now transfer money with your phone; you can pay utility bills with your phone. As long as you have data, you can have access to the internet. So you save time and energy; you do not have to board a vehicle to the bank to pay your utility bills. You have gained technically because you have saved money on transport. Those are the things we are examining at the conference. We want to see how we can grow our GDP using technology.

What is the role of young people in all this?

The future belongs to them. The population of Nigeria is 180 million and about 75 per cent of that is less than 15 years old. The power belongs to them. Again the marketers are losing power to consumers because of technology. Consumers can discuss whether they like a product or not. They now have an online community where they discuss user experience. So the power is shifting to the consumer because of technology. If I create a forum where we discuss new products, companies will be interested in it and will want to be part of the forum. That is how digital technology has become a powerful enabler and marketers are also using it to their advantage. No marketer can ignore the social media today.

 Where do you hope to see Nigerian ICT in the next five years?

Not only in Nigeria, in the whole world technology is trending and we need to belong to that space otherwise the express train will leave us behind. However, there are a lot of intelligent Nigerians within and without the country, who have the power to change things the way Mark Zukerberg and Larry Page of Google have done a lot of great things. These are young people and these innovations do not belong to old people. They can think and that is the beginning of ideation, thinking, critical thinking, analytical thinking, and the beginning of an ideation process. Once you go through that stage, ideas begin to develop, they evolve, they match up and come to where you can sell them.

The theme of the conference is disruptive technology, what does that mean?

As old technologies are going, new ones are replacing them. Technology in nature will always be disruptive. That is why we started with disruptive technologies. In many parts of the world, technology will change many things; some people will lose their jobs and others will gain. For instance, taxi drivers are complaining about Uber because they are losing to technology. So technology is a major enabler.