As the report for an emerging Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in Nigeria is being studied by the government, it becomes interesting to follow the imminent convergence of the Communications Technologies (CT) and the Information Technology industry (IT). This was evident at a recent forum organized by the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) where the debate came up. It is against this backdrop that I have decided to point out some of the events, players, stakeholders, organisations that impacted on the Industry positively within 2010 and what 2011 holds for the industry.
In 2010, Nigeria turned 50; it was also a time to review how IT has faired over the past 50 years. Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) under the leadership of Prof.Charles Uwadia took out time to review the impact of Information Technology on national development. At that event, it was agreed that in spite of the daunting challenges the industry has faced over the years, IT which cuts across different areas of the economy, has contributed immensely in national development, be it in education, financial institutions, Medical, Governance, Socially and politically. IT experts also said that more needs to be done.
It was also a year that saw the signing of a memorandum of understand(MoU) between the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria(ATCON) and the Information Technology Association of Nigeria(ITAN) under the leadership of Engr.Titi Omo-Ettu and Dr.Jimson Olufuye respectively. This according to them will help the two bodies share information and collaborate on a number of issues and projects which is seen as a good move towards the emerging industry.
ITAN in its own capacity organized the IT future 2010 event in collaboration with NASSCOM India and the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA).The event which was meant for IT CEOs brought to bare the opportunities in IT offshoring and M-Outsourcing for economic growth.
In the communications sector, the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), the regulatory body for telecommunications in Nigeria got new leadership.Dr Eugene Juwah was appointed as the Executive Vice chairman (EVC) to take over from Engr.Ernest Ndukwe.Before this appointment, the industry was really worried about who will take over the mantle of leadership at NCC where many said Engr.Ndukwe left a big shoe through his achievements over the years.NCC within 2010 started the SIM card registration which is a commendable effort but many industry experts have criticized the mode in which it is being carried out, some argued that it should not only be for SIM cards but a total registration of Telecommunication Subscribers in Nigeria. This process of SIM card registration is ongoing.
The year also saw the official launch of commercial services of Glo-1 and Main-one broadband cables. The efforts of these organizations are highly commended, the huge investments they have made is to reduce the cost of satellite bandwidth in other to provide quality service in telecommunications and related fields. Experts said the commercial launch of these broadband services will within a short period of time revolutionize communication and business in Nigeria. (The West Africa Cable system has also concluded its plans to launch its cable services in Nigeria in 2011).
2010 also saw a leading Indian telecommunication company Bharti-Airtel holding controlling stake in Zain Africa which Zain Nigeria is a part. The impact of this change is yet to be seen.
It is a year that saw Zinox Laptops strongest in the laptop market where it leads six other international brands, including HP, Acer, Toshiba, Dell, Lenovo and LG Electronics, with a 53.6% market share and a year-on-year growth of 799 per cent, while its closest competitor, HP, achieved a 23.6 per cent market share Zinox laptops become the fastest growing and best selling Notebooks in the Nigerian market.(Source:IDC)
Other events that shaped the Information and Communications industry in 2010 were, the Nigeria Internetworld Conference and Exhibition (NICE) which was sponsored by the Internet exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN).The event brought together experts in Internet related fields including Mr. Muhammed Rudman, the Managing Director at IXPN, sharing ideas that will bring about Internet for Business revolution in Nigeria.NITDA also organized the e-Nigeria event. There was also the Broadband for Nigeria Forum (BB4ng), the Wimax forum, Digital Sense Africa, Barcamp 2010.The effect of the UN internet based World Summit Youth Awards (WSYA) was also felt in Nigeria as two Nigerians won the awards.
Google for the first time in Nigeria organized two different events; the G-Africa event and the DevFest2010.The G-Africa event was a forum where Google enlightened many Nigerians on the different products and services on their platform that will help businesses and organizations, while the DevFest2010 was a two- day event to train application developers on how to develop mapping apps for 2011 elections.
The year also saw the development of many online startups in Nigeria with increased awareness in that area.
Cyber Crime workshops were organized; one was by the Digital Bridge Institute in collaboration with the International Cyber center (ICC), George Mason University. At that event experts affirmed the need for Nigeria to have a Cyber policy and begin to take the issue of cyber Crime seriously.
Also, the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) in her own contribution under the leadership of Chris Uwaje emphasized and promoted the need for financial institutions and other bodies to use Nigerian made softwares and thereby help to promote the software industry in Nigeria. Several committees where also appointed to further develop the software industry in Nigeria.
It was also a year that the Nigeria Internet Group under the leadership of Engr.Lanre Ajayi gave out grants to some deserving Internet entrepreneurs through her initiative called Internet4jobs(i4j).The sale of Nigerian top level domain-the .com.ng and .ng by Nigeria Internet Registration Association(NIRA) got more patronage and awareness.
Politically, experts in IT advocated for the use of e-voting system and the data capturing machine which will see Nigeria deploying IT in her 2011 elections.
Socially, there has been an increase in the use of smartphones like the blackberry with social media applications like twitter; facebook.The year saw an increase in the number of Nigerians using social media platforms for different purposes. The President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan got actively involved on facebook through his facebook page.
In the media sector, the impact of ICT was also felt, most media organizations had a strong online presence especially the print media with their websites having increased number of traffic(visitors) making them rank very high with the search engines. Citizen journalism got a better awareness in 2010 with the Wikileaks incident being a catalyst.
All of these events mentioned and many others ushered in what the future of ICT in 2011 will look like. In 2011,the growth of the industry will be driven by the impact of the commercial services of the broadband initiatives(championed by the Glo-1,Main-one and eventually the WACS when deployed) and the NIGCOMSAT-1 or 2(if completed).I think we will begin to see what some industry experts like Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem called the Broadband Harvest which will impact on our education system,medicine,Agriculture,
Entertainment, media, banking etc.
There will be what I call enriched mobile communication experience(EMCE) come 2011 through mobile money, mobile advert, mobile web, mobile applications and mobile devices. This will offer great business opportunities for Nigerians and development for the sector.
I like to conclude with the words of Peter Drucker,a management thinker and business philosopher, he said” the very best way to predict the future is to create it” so let us create the level of development we want to see in the industry come 2011 with government playing the leading role.