Stakeholders in the Nigeria Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry should set a platform that will address infrastructure and cybersecurity while establishing policies that will drive digital transformation in the country. This is the view of stakeholders at a forum held in Lagos on Nigeria’s readiness for digital transformation.
According to the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), governments should engage in processes that will put the country in line for Digital Transformation, which is the realignment of, or new investment in, technology, business models, and processes to drive new value for customers and employees and to compete more effectively in an ever-changing digital economy.
ALTON’s Legal And Regulatory Committee Chairman, Mrs. Eno Udoma-Eniang, who spoke for the association at the forum noted that for governments and businesses to play a part in the next industrial revolution, they must transform digitally: “There must be an organizations’ ability to meet with the changing customer demands. Emerging technologies are transforming the dynamics between man and machines and the way businesses operate. Now it’s not just about ‘human to human’ communication but ‘machine to machine’.”
She pointed to the fact that the fastest-growing companies or organizations are wielding the power of software, data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence, in tandem with transforming their workforce and production. “Digitally driven businesses are not just the new normal; they are the new order of doing things to catch up with the global trends of commerce and way of life.”
She noted that without a good legal framework the digital innovations from eCommerce; eHealth; eAgriculture and others may not allow these businesses to thrive in the country.
To also aid digitization, she said there is a need for deployment of infrastructure to enable speed of broadband delivery and quality of service, not without the attendant bottlenecks.
She further called on governments at all levels to support the massive deployment of telecom infrastructure in their domain for the efficient digital transformation of their day to day activities by looking at the long-term benefits of all the infrastructure in place for better service delivery to the citizen. ALTON on its part is committed to the smart cities initiative by which the States in Nigeria can all be transformed into digital operating States.
In his presentation, the Managing Director of eStream Networks Mr. Muyiwa Ogungboye observed that Nigeria’s readiness for Digital Transformation rests largely with all tiers government, relevant government agencies, be it at federal, state or local government level, the players in the Nigerian Telecom Industry, foreign investors, financial institutions and behavioral pattern of other industries that are expected to be digitally savvy and the generality of consumers.
He noted that Nigeria as a country has shown a high level of readiness for Digital Transformation because two agencies namely Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) were created to concretize the decision, among other successes recorded in digitalization.
Mr. Ogungboye, however, enumerated the challenges plaguing the growth of digitization in the country. They include the willpower of the government to implement Digital Transformation nationwide on whatever activities any citizen does. “This alone will drastically reduce the biggest problem in Nigeria and the required transformation we all have been longing to have will start to manifest.”
Other challenges he said include the Right of Way Issue; multiple taxations, levies, and fees on the same existing infrastructure; fragmented and limited distribution of fiber and telecom infrastructure to several areas of the country creating large swathes of un-served or under-served communities within States or Local Government Areas. Others are long delays in the issuance of permits for new infrastructure; severe power challenges and multiple agencies doing the same function.
In his summation, President of Medallion Communications, Mr. Ikechukwu Nnamani noted that cybersecurity will play a huge part in ensuring the success of Nigeria’s quest for digital transformation.
He observed that as the digitization of processes improves, cyber risks increase and so also the need to secure Nigeria’s digital heritage.
Citing a cybersecurity report by Serianu, Nnamani noted that despite having the highest number of Certified Professionals in Africa with 1800, Nigeria remains the lowest when judged by population. He lamented that over 90 percent of Nigerian organizations are operating below the security line, significantly exposing themselves to cybersecurity risks.
Cybersecurity gaps result in fraudulent database postings, loss of sensitive information, unauthorized access to critical systems within an organization and exploitation of missing patches to compromise confidentiality, integrity, and availability of critical information assets. Also, networks can be misconfigured to allow easy manipulation and system sabotage.
Mr. Nnamani said that all stakeholders must be cybersecurity ready for the digital transformation by being vigilant through continuous monitoring database security, patch management, employee security awareness, and security architecture/engineer skill set, among others.