According to Adebayo Shittu; Nigeria’s Minister of Communication, broadband penetration in the country has hit 23 percent, and this represents nearly two-fold growth from the 14 percent recorded in 2014.
The Minister made the disclosure at this year’s eNigeria Conference put together by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA); a three-day event which drew to a close last Wednesday (7th November), and was held at the International Conference Centre in the country’s capital.
It may be important to recall that taking a cue from the declaration of the International Telecoms Union (ITU) which has full, worldwide broadband accessibility by the year 2020 as its primary focus, the Nigerian government, through its National Broadband Plan, had in 2013 formally embarked on a mission of its own to see broadband penetration in the country rise to 30 percent by December 2018. And with the Minister’s revelations, the country does seem to be on course, though there is still some work to be done.
The Minister attributed the growth witnessed in broadband penetration to increased government participation borne out of the recognition of the role broadband plays in the development of the ICT sector. On that front, the Minister also revealed that foreign investment in the Nigerian ICT sector has surged up to USD 4 Bn from the USD 3.2 Bn reported in 2013, and this may have something to do with the implementation of business-friendly policies which encourage the establishment of tech startups while also helping to sustain existing businesses in the country.
Perhaps most tellingly, the Minister noted that emerging technologies are creating new industries with opportunities and Nigeria could be better served by leveraging those technologies in an effort to lure even more Foreign Direct Investment to the sector. And the growth witnessed in broadband penetration might well signal the beginning of many good things for the country’s economy.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Nigeria appears to be on a roll as a number of extraordinary developments have been recorded in the sector in recent times. With the proliferation of mobile devices — most notably, smartphones — in virtually every nook and cranny of the country, the benefits of technology, as well as its potential to trigger growth in some aspects of the Nigerian economy, is just beginning to be realized.
Digital technologies, ICTs, and broadband serve up a veritable pathway through which the living standards of individuals can be improved and country-wide development can be achieved. Broadband, in particular, is fast becoming a notable priority of the 21st Century as it boasts the potential to rapidly enable economic and social growth. It can be considered an important tool for the empowerment of people as it possesses the quality of creating an environment that fosters technological innovation. Broadband can be considered as having the potential to bring about positive changes in business processes while also imparting far-reaching societal growth.
What better way to illustrate the transformative qualities of broadband than by citing an example in the financial sector. The sector has come a long way from chequebooks and long queues to become a technology-driven set up which meets the demands of its various offerings by leveraging innovations in technology, of which broadband technology takes center stage as it continues to prop up business transactions in the financial sector.
But it would be a terrible misjudgment to assert that the impact of broadband services is restricted to financial services as the technology is known to also play equally vital roles in such areas as manufacturing, infrastructure, agriculture education, health, security, public safety, government services, and lifestyle, amongst others. Essentially, the development of broadband technology has given a new lease of life to the Internet of Things (IoT) and if its potentials are harnessed to the fullest, it may well do a solid to the country’s development agenda.
Fuelled by broadband technology, IoT is fast-becoming a rave, as it brings to reality the thought of being able to communicate with, connect, and manage a large number of devices connected through the internet — something that would have been deemed improbable at best not so long ago.
The progression from close network groups, through enterprise network solutions, and now to the very public internet has been quite swift and it appears to be happening in a rapid and somewhat alarming pace. This can be thought to have informed the clamour for network security. And in promoting the penetration of broadband technology, Nigeria may have come upon the last piece of the jigsaw. The move could see IoT thrive in the country as it can potentially combine extended bandwidth reach with a large number of networked objects.
In collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Communication (NCC), the Ministry of Communication is on a mandate to see the country’s broadband penetration reach the 30 percent mark by the end of this year. But in spite of the progress already made, it might actually take some doing to hit that figure — especially as the country’s telecoms sector is still hampered by a number of constraints despite its significant contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
There is no denying that a super-fast broadband with country-wide penetration is a prerequisite for a smooth-running IoT. It is, therefore, imperative and quite reasonable that the Nigerian government is channelling considerable effort into developing a decent broadband system and increasing its penetration in an effort to boost IoT and make the most of all the functionality that comes with it. When placed on the front burner, broadband services can potentially create an enabling environment for software developers to thrive. It could serve as the scaffold on which innovative applications for the expansion of IoT in Nigeria can be built. And this can only mean well for the country’s tech ecosystem.
Featured image courtesy: guardian.ng