Nigeria now ranks eleventh in terms of internet penetration and seventh in terms of mobile phone usage globally, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said.
The NCC Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer Umar Danbatta, disclosed this while speaking at the opening ceremony of a two-day workshop on emerging technology forum for the telecommunications industry in Abuja on Thursday.
Mr Dambatta said Nigeria is a telecommunications powerhouse, with 82 per cent of the continent’s telecom subscribers and 29 per cent internet consumption.
“Our nation ranks eleventh globally in terms of internet penetration and seventh in terms of mobile phone usage.
“Despite these remarkable metrics, the fact that our Network Readiness Index (NRI) ranking for 2022 is 109th out of 131 countries is both humbling and challenging?” he said.
Mr Danbatta, represented by Abraham Osahadami, the NCC’s Head of Spectrum Database Management, said in recent years, the Nigerian telecommunications industry had embarked on a remarkable growth trajectory, solidifying its position as an engine of economic growth.
“The enhancement of digital access and the expansion of our networks have left an indelible impact on the lives of our citizens.
“While we celebrate these accomplishments, we are keenly aware that our dynamic society requires even higher connectivity, reliability, and accessibility standards,” he said.
He said the surge in data utilisation, the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), the advent of artificial intelligence, and the emergence of cutting-edge technologies highlight the urgent need for ongoing network surveillance and expansion.
To navigate this era of transformation, he said the nation must embrace innovation, make strategic investments, and cultivate a growth-friendly ecosystem.
He explained that this platform is Nigeria’s gateway to innovative and disruptive solutions that can positively transform our industry.
“By engaging in conversations about new technologies, collaborating with global best practices and subject-matter experts, and pooling our insights, we open the door to unimaginable future possibilities.
“Let us grasp this opportunity to investigate emerging technologies, envisage their potential applications, and determine how they can be leveraged to solve our specific challenges,” he said.
He said the global data collected by the NRI team reveals that digital transformation is a global imperative in order to maximise the social and economic effects of the digital era.
He added that it can create new inequalities which can hinder the ability of younger generations to engage in the digital economy, but also remains a powerful way to do more with less at all levels of income.
“Formal education is evolving and metrics are important to support informed policy making. This requires reskilling and upskilling opportunities to be available, accessible and affordable in order to have more inclusive and sustainable economies and societies,” he added.
He explained that the NRI is a guiding metric that measures the role and impact of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). It explores the performances of 131 economies in four key categories: technology (infrastructure), governance, people, and impact.
“As agents of social and economic transformation in our nation, prioritizing network readiness is not only a strategic necessity but a mandate.
“Throughout our deliberations, we will engage in thought-provoking forum discussions that explore the foundational pillars of NRI, through a number of presentations by renowned professionals in the technology landscape,” he said.
He added that the innovation symphony resonates with their common goals.
“The Emerging Technology Forum acts as a beacon, directing us towards the intersection of transformation and advancement. This forum is where we bridge the divide between aspiration and achievement.
“Through spirited dialogues, collaborative exchanges, and the exploration of emerging technologies, we move closer to our vision of a fully interconnected, telecommunications-driven Nigeria,” he said.
Also speaking, the Head New Media and Information Security Department, NCC, Chidi Diugwu, said the tech industry is a focal point of Nigeria’s growth, demonstrated by the recent investments in infrastructure and digital services.
He added that the federal government’s focus on the tech industry, particularly on fostering the advancement and growth of technology, especially emerging and new technologies is highly commendable.
“This goal of enhancing the productivity ecosystem is expected to result in a significant boost to the nation’s innovative capabilities in the coming years.
“There has been remarkable development in Nigeria’s ICT infrastructure in recent years, with skyrocketing mobile penetration rates, and internet connectivity expanding drastically,” he said.
He explained that the commission’s commitment to enhance network infrastructure, coupled with the private sector’s contributions had significantly transformed the connectivity landscape.
“It is crucial to note that the NRI is not just about the latest technologies or high-speed internet access. It also includes elements such as affordability, digital skills, and the availability and adoption of digital services in various sectors of the economy,” he said.
He said Nigeria’s performance on the NRI index from 2020 to 2022, as reported by the Potulans Institute, indicates a mixture of improvement and challenges that still persist.
Thus, he said applying the NRI in the telecommunication industry is of paramount importance in Nigeria’s current digital ecosystem.
“Utilising the insights it brings allows us to amplify our strengths, address our challenges, and propel our nation into a brighter digital future.
“However, despite the importance of NRI in channelling the strengths and opportunities of our tech ecosystem, it is imperative that the metrics are localized to reflect our current realities,” he said.
Edited: Oladeinde Olawoyin
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