Stakeholders must walk the talk to uplift ICT sector

Mohammed Rudman, managing director of IXPN and the chairman, IPv6 Council

Mohammed Rudman, managing director of IXPN and the chairman, IPv6 Council

As Nigeria celebrates, yet another Independence Day anniversary today, stakeholders in the nation’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry have stressed the need to back policies with actions in the sector.

According to those who spoke to The Guardian, by now the Nigerian economy should be driven largely by contributions from the ICT sector, rather than oil, which they claimed would go into extinction.

Speaking to The Guardian, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), Muhammed Rudman, believed strongly that there is room for increased ICT contribution to the economy if policies can be matched with actions. He stressed the need for better coordination of government agencies for the sector to impact lives meaningfully.

According to him, there was need to fully implement the National Broadband Plan (NBP), stressing that it was key to meeting the 30 per cent penetration target set for 2018 by the government in terms of getting majority of the country connected.

“The NBP is rich enough to help meet the target. The challenge has been that we fail to measure our growth, which appears to be very critical,” he stated.

Rudman said challenges including lack of infrastructure, poor policies and low education (end user awareness) are things that need to be looked into strategically for better impact from the ICT sector on the economy.

Like Rudman, the CEO of Prime Innovation Institute of Technology (PIIT), an Aptech franchise in the country, Joseph Ebinum, ICT is the present and future of any nation, stressing that an economy that is not technology savvy would continued to play catch up.

Frowning at what he described as the ‘Dinosaur nature’ of Nigeria, especially in ICT, Ebinum said smaller countries including Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, not to talk of South Africa have become ICT savvy nations, “but what do we still have in Nigeria? We are still largely a consumer nation. Government must make conscious effort, apart from just making speeches.”

According to him, emphasis from government on diversifying with ICT is still very low, “there must be a change from the top, which can later cascade to the bottom.”

The PIIT boss posited that government must support individual efforts of some players, by giving them tax breaks, among others, stressing that it was also crucial that government must create the right environment for businesses to thrive.

To the Managing Director of Huawei Nigeria, Frank Li, to fast track the nation’s development through ICT, governments should lead by example in digital transformation for enterprises and citizens, and increase spending on ICT infrastructure to benefit the public.

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