Improving Nigeria’s internet presence for economic prosperity
23 April 2012
Business Day - 23 April 2012
Undoubtedly, the Nigeria’s Information Communications Technology (ICT) sector has witnessed phenomenal growth in the last decade, and has emerged as the leading mobile telephony market in Africa in terms of subscriber base and revenue.
This tremendous growth, according to industry watchers, has been due largely to regulatory and policy reforms in the country and the emergence of a quasi-independent regulator, which in turn ushered in an era of stability. The resultant increase in investor confidence led to an abundant inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) which provided the financial lubricant required to sustain growth in network infrastructure and services deployment in Nigeria.
However, while the foreign investment has been good and necessary to jump start the sector and make better telephony services available to Nigerians, it has also implied that most of the financial gains from the development over the past decade have been exported offshore.
A decade into this process, Nigeria remains largely a consumer of telephony services and contributes minimal local content to the services enjoyed. Indeed, telecom has become a larger part of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), so it creates some jobs and income. However, the significant gains from providing the initial capital, network and subscriber equipment, software and specialized services are gained offshore.
Omobola Johnson, minister of communications technology, had earlier said that the ICT sector accounted for 3.5 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP, compared with 10 per cent for South Africa. This, according to her, can improve, if the various opportunities in the sector are fully explored.