Technology has changed the world for good and this digital revolution is irreversible!
The 21st Century is a Technology propelled evolution and no nation and/or government can survive without ensuring that ICT is made the priority investment focus and platform. Indeed, nations must build the commensurate IT Capacities to survive the emerging digital Tsunami. There are massive opportunities, benefits and risks.
Going forward, that translates to matching national IT investment to identified challenges. There is a great concern that not doing so, Nigeria may miss the promise and opportunities of the multi-trillion market; from digital transformation Ecosystem for sustainable national development.
Government and the art of governance worldwide represents a monumental human and national development infrastructure whose performance expectations and sustainable values are dependent and driven by technology diffusion with particular reference to Information Technology.
This is why governments classify the ICT Ecosystem as a strategic development factor and national budgetary investment imperatives.
According to Gartner’s IT spend and growth forecast last year; worldwide IT spending was projected to total $3.7 trillion in 2018, an increase of 4.5 percent from 2017. The latest forecast by Gartner, Inc. indicated that; “Global IT spending growth began to turn around in 2017, with continued growth expected over the next few years”.
The report observed that there would be challenging uncertainties. However, “despite this uncertainty, businesses will continue to invest in IT as they anticipate revenue growth, but their spending patterns will shift”.
Africa and Nigeria in particular has become a significant part of the global digital market economy but very vulnerable due to lack of constructive and strategically promoted investments in the digital revolution.
Today, we are experiencing the critical trends in high velocity innovation processes.
Technology holds potential of massive growth for Nigeria’s development
Indeed, these are set to disrupt the future-of-development (FoD) at personal and national levels. Innovation and creativity has become the oxygen and centre of gravity of the digital Ecosystem.
This Ecosystem which includes the all-important Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet-of-Things (IoT), Broadband, Big Data and Cloud-of-Things, Virtual Reality, Machine Learning; 3D Printing, Blockchain Technology, etc. will require huge investment in tools, capacities and capabilities of dense IT skills; the majority of which are now Software-centric. Only the ICT sector can guarantee the desired National Security.
All the above will evolve into digital businesses, e-commerce and e-Government; providing secured employment, transforming agriculture, education, health and health-care delivery and National Security. No other economic agent is capable of providing massive growth than ICT for Nigeria’s development.
But regrettably, ICT companies are dying in Nigeria. With a population of about 200 million smart people, our digital skills and e-readiness index remain very low. For example, while a country like China produces over 12,000 Startups daily from Government funded incubators; Nigeria can only boast of about 750 Innovation Hubs, less than 20,000 actively employed Practitioners, few Tele-communications entities; about 250 Software Companies (80% are currently on life-support or dead-on-arrival) instead of the required 50,000 certified ICT companies; with ability to attract local and international investors.
These are huge and critical concerns in the ICT Sector. To fix the monumental challenges is only possible with Government back-up funding mechanism. Nigeria needs to invest N750billion Naira annually into ICT domain in the next five years; if it must retool society and compete with the rest of the world.
Global rise in ICT investment calls for action
With reference to Gartner; “Enterprise software continues to exhibit strong growth, with worldwide software spending projected to grow 9.5 percent in 2018; and it will grow another 8.4 percent in 2019 to total $421 billion.
Whereas, our software industry has disappeared; arguably swallowed by foreign intervention in the face of a nation without a National Software Policy; Innovation Strategy, Digital IP Intervention, Proactive legislation and Technology Investment Incentives.
Governments all over the world have increased their investment in technology – especially ICT/Research by over 500% over the years.
But Nigeria has only struggled and continued to register gross deficit in local ICT Investment. The global score care for Nigeria’s ICT performance index is 119 out of 143. Government is expected to craft enterprise vision to strategically increase spending on Innovation Hubs, Startups, and Equipment manufacturing centres.
If this is done, Nigeria and Africa will experience an unimaginable economic boom powered by ICT; as well as the local Software brain power.
By 2050, Nigeria’s population would be 400 million who will require and expected to consume over 3billion digital devices. These include Mobile Phones, laptops, Palm tops, Intelligent Home devices, etc. Therefore, there is a critical need to set up digital manufacturing plants for home consumption.
Certainly, the Software Industry is critical and can generate many $billions of revenue and massive employment for the nation; in addition to providing the platform for accelerated and incremental GDP input and national security in the digital Ecosystem.
Finally, with the 4th Industrial Revolution at the door; Data aggregation has become the new blood for national economic development.
The National IT Policy of 2001 has now become obsolete and Nigeria urgently needs a National Digital Policy and Strategic Investment Roadmap.