The readiness of Nigeria to exploit opportunities offered by information and communications technology in the interest of Africa’s largest economy is bothering the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Danbatta.
Making reference to the 2022 Network Readiness Index (NRI) ranking, which placed Nigeria in 109th position out of 131 countries of the world, Danbatta described the situation as humbling and challenging, saying that the need to prioritizing network readiness is not only a strategic necessity but a mandate.
Danbatta who spoke at the Emerging Technology Forum for the telecommunications Industry where he was represented by the NCC’s Director of Spectrum Administration, Engr. Abraham Oshadami stated that “Nigeria is a telecommunications powerhouse, with 82% of the continent’s telecom subscribers and 29% of the continent’s internet consumption. Our nation rates eleventh globally in terms of internet penetration and seventh in terms of mobile phone usage.”
He however observed that the efforts of the NCC on enhancement of digital access and the expansion of networks, which he said have left an indelible impact on the lives of the citizens stressing, “While we celebrate these accomplishments, we are keenly aware that our dynamic society requires even higher connectivity, reliability, and accessibility standards.”
He added: “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.
“The global data collected by the NRI team reveals that digital transformation is a global imperative in order to maximize the social and economic effects of the digital era. 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.”
Earlier in Introductory Remarks, by Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, Engr. Ubale Maska harped on the need to explore the challenges that are present, and to discuss solutions to ensure that the country is making the most of the digital transformation.
He said, “With the world becoming increasingly interconnected and our economic activities relying heavily on the digital space, it has become essential for countries to be at the forefront in terms of technology adoption. This is why the Network Readiness Index (NRI) is so important to measure the progress of a country as it relates to ICTs and digital transformation.”
Head New Media and Information Security Department of the Commission, Engr. Chidi Diugwu said the forum with the theme: “Contextualizing the Network Readiness Index for the Nigerian Telecommunications Industry”, said the forum aims to establish a National Network Readiness Index (NRI) by exploring the driving factors of emerging technologies, further examining the sustainability and barriers of the NRI’s four pillars – Technology, People, Governance, and Impact.
He disclosed that 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 persists adding, “applying the Network Readiness Index in the Telecommunication Industry is of paramount importance in our 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.”
Diugwu noted that it was imperative that the metrics used in the NRI are localized to reflect Nigeria’s current realities stressing the need to embrace the insights offered by the NRI to guide our policies, investments, and collaborations to enable us harness the potentials of emerging technologies, investing in human capital, and fostering innovation that will unlock new opportunities, bridge the digital divide, and create a prosperous and inclusive digital future for Nigeria.