ICT is so critical to the growth of the Nigerian economy and society. But what is the effectiveness of ICT in Nigeria today. Is growth relevant and adequate? If ICT must be used to drive development (ICT4D) what are the new developments that matter in Nigeria’s ICT industry?
Information Technology companies in Nigeria – providing access, service, products
Previously, though a diversity of firms supply, service, and maintain equipment in Nigeria, the country imported 100 percent of all its IT equipment needs. However, Nigerian brands of IT equipment have found their way into ICT markets with Zinox Technologies and Omatek Computers leading the way. Despite the fact that these indigenous companies assemble their own brands of Desktop and Laptop computers for the local and international markets, local patronage is still largely foreign.
However, a dearth of data still exists. Vendors representing all the major foreign, global brands in ICT dominate the industry. Since the advent of democracy, leading global brands – including Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Samsung – have opened country offices along side their vendors/distributors in Nigeria.
PC access and availability has improved, with the advent of liberalization and the availability of cheap imports from Asia, falling tech prices and the growth in the second-hand PC market. However access to computing facilities is still an issue. The average Nigerian still views the computer as a luxury. Without reasonable access how much can really be achieved? The ICT sector can’t have significant impact without affordable computing facilities.
Nigeria’s government launched “Computer for All Nigerians Initiative” CANi a Public-Private-Partnership, in 2006 to close this gap. However, CANi has not made the desired impact. And presently the scheme seems to have been abandoned. Beyond the lack of understanding and focus bedeviling the initiative, there are also project monitoring, evaluation and management issues that may be responsible for the disappointing outcomes associated with the project.
Deregulation of Nigeria’s telecommunications sector led to the introduction of major Global System of Mobile Communications (GSM), mobile phone providers starting with MTN Nigeria, Zain, Globacom and Mtel. Etisalat is the latest entrant.
Developments in telecommunications since the advent of GSM technology led to tremendous growth not only in the telecom/ICT sector but massive employment generation through telecom enabled services in all facets of society – highlighting the linkage between ICT and social and economic development and how ICT enables growth in non-ICT sectors. Indeed, Nigeria has been described as the fastest growing Telecommunications market by several internationally recognized market analysts who specialize in the telecom sector.
Granting autonomy to the Telecommunications Regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) paved the way for the issuing of licenses by NCC to private telecoms companies. This essentially opened up the telecom sector through the provision of a variety of telecom services to the Nigerian populace.
Since the GSM launch, mobile telephony has rapidly become the most popular method of voice communication in Nigeria. The telecom sector has also become the largest generator of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) after the Oil and Gas industry. According to the former Chief Executive of NCC, Engr. Ernest Ndukwe telecoms investment in Nigeria since 2001 had exceeded USD18 billion by 2010.
The GSM revolution changed the face of Information and Communications Technology in Nigeria. But the complete picture includes the Private Telephone Operators (PTOs) and other landmarks such as the licensing of Globacom as Nigeria’s second national operator (SNO) as well as the licensing of fixed wireless operators all ensuring the availability of GSM, CDMA, VSAT (Very Small Aperture Satellite), telephony, Internet, data and fixed wireless services at national and regional levels.
Content includes excerpts from Jide Awe’s presentation, “Public Private Partnership (PPP) in ICT for Development in Nigeria” presented at the eNigeria 2010 International Summit held at the Shehu Musa Yar’ Adua Centre, Abuja, Nigeria on May 20, 2010