Looking at the global competitive Index (GCI), a peek into the competitive readiness of select countries globally, Nigeria’s rating is abysmal. Juxtaposed with the ‘successes’ we have recorded in our communications technology sector and the many ‘business talks’ by both the private and public businesses operating in the country on the prospects of the industry, one would realise that there is a missing bridge between the country’s local successes and international relevance.
Recently the 2015-2016 Global Competitive Index (GCI) of the world economic forum, published that out of 140 countries examined, Nigeria ranks an overall 124 behind other African countries including Morocco at 72, Kenya (99), Ethiopia (109), Cameroon (114); Ghana (119) and Benin (122).
Further breakdown shows the country rated 133 in Infrastructure, 119 in Intellectual property protection, 124 in Internet access in schools and 106 in Technological readiness – behind countries like Rwanda, Senegal, Egypt, Ghana and Kenya
The ranking shows that technological readiness has helped Nigeria shore up some points, but infrastructure challenges has not helped, and needs to be addressed.
In the various sub-sectors of the technology industry, the local successes are most visible, but this is mostly when compared to where the country is coming from, when compared to days of 400, 000 telephone lines, days of lack of access to internet, days of zero innovativeness in the software industry, days of no infrastructure in the industry except that which had been laid by the Nigerian Telecommunication Limited (NITEL).
Today, with industry liberalisation, specific policies addressing specific issues, regulatory firmness, and media watchdogging, among other things, the country has moved several steps away from its former technological dark age to a more illuminated present.
Today, legislative frameworks such as the Communications Act, NITDA Act, Nigerian Copyright Commission Act, Content Development Act, among others have set the platform on which growth can happen.
Also the Ministry of Communications Technology’s National Broadband Plan 2013-2018, Galaxy Backbone’s National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone (NICTIB), Federal Government’s Cloud & Video Project, Nigerian Communications Commission’s (NCC) Code of Corporate Governance, National Information Technology Development Agency’s (NITDA) Nigerian Local Content Development in ICT, along with several others initiated by the private sector, the country’s technology industry has been able to climb to unforeseen heights.
The gains of these initiatives and many more efforts at regulation have brought smiles and forward-look to the industry.
With over 151 million active telephone subscribers, and a huge population, the country has the capacity to absorb products and services, and to churn out same.
In the software, internet, e-services sectors, the country has pushed hard to drive the economy with technology, and to show the country’s innovativeness and ability to adapt to new, modern and globally applicable technologies. However, the GCI indicates that lack of protection to intellectual property right is still pushing the country’s software industry down.
Nigerians have been noted to be quick in adopting and adapting to new technologies. The four critical components of today’s global technology that will make and shape the future are Social Media, Big Data, Cloud Services and Mobility. These four are seen as the mega trends in technology…at least for today and the nearest future. And Nigeria is keying into these trends to rise to global competiveness. But so much more needs to be done.
The truth is that the world looks upon us seeing the fast pace in technological adaptation, development and potential, but we are still struggling to be internationally relevant. The fact also is that we have the ability to be globally competitive tech-wise. But we still have a lot of work to do.
Many forums have tried to seek pointers to be globally competitive, but the software industry has led the way in putting Nigeria on a global platform, although we are yet to compete in world-changing software beyond apps.
Going by the GCI rating, although the country has stepped up from its 127th position the previous year, the country still needs to shore up in areas such as Training (including for advanced technological skills), Innovations and Infrastructure (including power).
According to the World Economic Forum: “Beyond the vision, enhancing competitiveness is a complex and often protracted process that demands difficult trade-offs, careful consideration for sequencing reforms and room for calibration in changing conditions. Steering the cause towards enhanced competitiveness requires vigilance and commitment from all stakeholders and throughout the process.”