No doubt, the global meltdown in the last couple of years has destabilised every viable business sector in Nigeria. The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is not left out and this has affected the speedy growth of the sector. Stakeholders noted recently that many network expansions are still quite slow in the country because of the meltdown that is still worsening the economy.
They hinted that the meltdown is biting quite hard and the basic issue at hand for the sector is to ensure that human capacity is well-equipped, motivated and informed to attend to the needs of subscribers.
Industry watchers also explained that outsourcing is the major attempt that many operators have anchored on to increase their efficiency as well as their productivity. They insisted that many operators are offering various services but only a few could distinguish themselves, stressing that irrespective of the economic crunch, some of them have tried to provide the necessary service to subscribers.
It is also believed that there is no falsehood in saying that the global economic meltdown has affected investments not only in Nigeria but the rest of the world.
One such stakeholder, Chief Executive Officer, New Horizon Training Centre, Tim Akano, said that ICT holds one of the keys to economic recovery, especially in the areas of information and software solutions that will assist organizations and government thrive in a challenging economy.
“With the aid of ICT, roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders would be highlighted. And it will also help the Government to seize the available IT opportunities, set up policies, regulations, standards and framework for better and effective e-government for the sake of improving Government services, thereby increasing the society’s benefit and prosperity of both citizen and private business concerns”.
According to the Chief Executive Officer, Zinox Technologies Ltd, Chief Leo Stan Ekeh, the global meltdown is an excellent opportunity for national growth, if Nigeria gets her priorities right. “IT sector might falter because of poor foundations and the declining access to disposable funds. IT sector has made remarkable gains in IT penetration in the last nine years beginning with the launch of Zinox Computers and the launch of GSM”.
He recalled the huge responsibility on the shoulders of the IT sector as the main pivot of national development and averred that the best way forward would be a conscious and systematic intervention by the Nigerian government. While commending the Federal Government for the huge interventions in the textile and agriculture sectors, Ekeh said that, the IT sector is in dire need of immediate attention because ICT is the greatest capacity-building platform ever.
Referring to Hong Kong, India, Japan, China, and the USA, Ekeh observed that only nations who deliberately grow a knowledge economy could guarantee a productive citizenry. He urged the Federal Government to pump more money into the ICT sector to “re-train the citizenry, re-brand Nigerians, and give them global opportunities.
“Nigeria would be a different and better place if the Government were to inject billions of naira to provide subsidized computers and free internet access for all Nigerians. Within weeks, it would change the mindset of the people. Such a move would create immense goodwill for Government and engender skills that would attract not just foreign capital but that would make Nigeria a great outsourcing centre like India where citizens are re-tooled and empowered to get jobs anywhere in the world.
These things are possible because the incubation period for Information Technology is very short unlike other sectors of the economy, maybe three months. The government of this nation should invest directly in the people by giving them free access to the internet, to knowledge and the free world. 85 per cent of Nigerians are in darkness not because of power outage but because they are ‘analogue’.
Ekeh also urged the Nigerian Government to take a cue from what other nations are doing to ensure the growth of the IT industry. He reiterated that it was important that government creates patronage for the products of credible local IT companies to ensure that Nigeria’s technological platform is indigenous, secure and patriotic.
Managing Director, MTI Engineering Services Ltd, Lagos, Selwyn Watkins, also stressed that Nigeria is yet to place her priorities right especially since she relies heavily on oil rather than look for other avenues. He noted that the solution for the global financial meltdown is not in downsizing or reducing benefits rather, Nigeria should focus more on how to boost the economy with ICT, which is one way to escape the turbulence and impact of the rage of the meltdown.