ICT: The Nigeria’s Fastest Growing Sector
By Inyene Ibanga
The latest data released by NBS shows that the ICT sector of the Nigerian economy grew by 14.70 per cent in the last quarter of 2020
Technology has continued to assert itself as the dominant force in the human situation at this point, with the potential to lead many developing countries into prosperity and prominence. Access to technological innovation is providing a tremendous boost to most emerging economies.
In many ways, technology is helping developing economies to reduce the cost of production, improve efficiency, service delivery, and encourage the growth of new businesses, especially, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across all sectors.
Those startups are leveraging emerging technologies and innovations to create employment opportunities and expand entrepreneurial activities.
Advanced economies have adapted to technological innovations and prioritised them to give their businesses the competitive edge to affect the global market, but their counterparts in developing countries are still struggling for entry into this system. This is because those countries lack the mechanism for supervising technology that can provide economic and social values.
As one of Africa’s rapidly developing economies, Nigeria is adapting to emerging technological innovations as the major drivers of the country’s digital economy project.
Nigeria is leveraging emerging technologies and innovations to stimulate growth in vital areas of the economy such as education, health, agriculture, banking and finance, transportation, commerce and trades.
Most companies are now conducting their businesses online, thereby cutting costs, improving efficiency and effectiveness, and providing customer satisfaction.
Emerging technologies are impacting various sectors of the economy, despite the exacerbating effects of the galloping second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The contribution of technology to the expansion in different sectors of the economy cannot be over-estimated.
Given prevailing global economic and social realities, people are beginning to realise the intricate connection between technological innovations, economic growth, and overall human wellbeing.
Having accepted the disruptive power of technology, countries around the world are investing heavily in building capacity to create value and prosperity in the digital economy by offering relevant digital skills and infrastructure to empower thire citizens.
Nigeria is gradually, but surely, transforming from the traditional economy into one of Africa’s leading digital economies on account of the consistent contributions of information and communication technology (ICT) to the gross domestic product (GDP) all through the previous year.
The latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), on the gross domestic product (GDP), showed that the ICT sector of the Nigerian economy grew by 14.70 per cent in the last quarter of 2020.
The sector did not only emerge as the fastest growing one, it is also rated as the only sector to have posted double digit growth at 12.90 per cent in the entire GDP assessment.
In fact, NBS data further indicated that the growth rate of the sector is more than four times that of the next fastest-growing sector – agriculture – which posted a growth rate of 3.42 per cent during the period under review.
Certainly, this is an impressive result by a sector that had been comatose until October 2019 when President Muhammadu Buhari approved the renaming of the former Ministry of Communications as Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
The performance of the telecommunications sector, which recorded its highest growth rate in the last 10 years at 15.90 per cent, is equally gratifying for stakeholders in the sector.
Under the leadership of the visionary Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, the re-designated Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy has seamlessly expanded its responsibilities to cover the entire field of ICT innovation and entrepreneurship, as it applies to the digital economy.
Pantami attributes the huge strides recorded in the ICT sector to the focused and committed effort of the Federal Government to successfully diversify the economy through strategic policy directions outlined in the National Digital Economy Policy for a Digital Nigeria and the Nigerian National Broadband Plan, among others.
He laid the foundational work for the take-off of the ICT sector during his stint as the Director-General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and handed over to a worthy successor and well rounded IT professional, in the person of Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi.
Since assuming office as DG, Kashifu has not relented in his single-minded focus on fulfilling NITDA’s mandate as the focal agency responsible for setting regulations for Nigeria’s digital transition.
Thus, the agency has been empowered by its enabling Act to create a framework for the planning, development, regulation, monitoring, and advising of the country on all IT related matters/practices for the general development of the sector.
Among its most ambitious programmes/projects are the National Adopt Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) empowerment programme; the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), and the recent groundbreaking for the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre (NDIEC) in Abuja, alongside the establishment of digital innovation hubs in some selected universities across the country.
With those key programmes, NITDA is regarded as a forward thinking institution of government that is always planning to keep the country and her citizens up-to-date with the relevant resources to grow and stabilise our economic fortunes.
No doubt, the synergy between the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and its agencies have contributed to the impressive impact of the ICT sector on the national economy.
If this existing understanding and cooperation is sustained by the Ministry and NITDA, it is already a given that the ICT sector would overtake oil and gas as the leading foreign exchange earner for the country.
But above all, a consistent year-to-year growth in the ICT sector would inspire confidence in the citizens that our Nigeria has a competitive edge over many countries in the global digital economy.
Inyene Ibanga is the Managing Editor of TechDigest and writes from Wuye District, Abuja