Mr Segun Ogunsanya, Chief Executive Officer at mobile phone company, Airtel Nigeria, wants Nigeria to take advantage of disruption in the technology space to reverse the nation’s dwindling economic fortune.
Mr Ogunsanya represented by Adedoyin Adeola, Vice President Network Operations Airtel Nigeria told participants this week at the Nigeria International Technology Exhibition and Conference (NITEC) 2016 held in Lagos that the country needs to leverage disruptive technologies which is building multinational companies around the world today.
According to him, Nigeria and South Africa are the highest contributors to the entire African GDP today but are “going south” economically because they are yet to leverage on the disruptive technologies.
“Nigeria and South Africa contributes more than 50% of the GDP in Africa but today they are going down. This is an opportunity rather than a problem that we can key into and turn around the economy,” the Airtel Nigeria CEO told the forum that attracted government, stakeholders in the ICT industry and media professionals.
Sharing his perspective on “The Role of Disruptive Technology in Growing African Economy’‘, he predicts that in the year 2020 the whole industry will be disrupted.
“We cannot talk about growing the GDP without looking at the ICT as well. ICT is currently contributing over 9% to the Nigerian economy. We have to look at it critically, leverage on the growth and turn things around.”
According to the Airtel top exec, discusing the subject matter is an unending conversation that focuses on being innovative by creating ways of doing things new and differently to meet needs now and in the future.
Also, being trans-formative by breaking the traditional barriers and challenging the status quo and cause a ripple around the industry, he adds.
“Once the barriers are not broken, you won’t be able to move to the next step. We are talking about Uber today because they are able to break the traditional taxi,” he says.
“Kodak sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide, had 170 employees in 1998 and sponsored Junior World Cup in 1985 but today they are no more because of disruptive technology.
“Uber is the biggest taxi company in the world today but they have no single taxi, Airbnb is the biggest hotel company in the world today but they have no hotel and that is what we are talking about”, according to the Airtel Nigeria chief.
On how to achieve all these, he tells the tech forum that ”it is time for Nigeria to start pushing the button and that government need to help the private sector with flexible policies because they are the bedrock of any economy.”
According to the Airtel Nigeria CEO, “we need to push the button if we are to take advantage of the disruptive technology. The government need to lift the spectrum and active infrastructure sharing restriction, mobile broadband (MBB) and fixed broadband (FBB) functional strategic policy needs to be implemented, incentive package for player and removal of all double taxation.”
On the part of corporate and SMEs, he says they should invest in innovation and capacity-building, establish corporate partnership with universities to create innovation centres and develop innovation internship programmes for young technologists.
In his submission to attendees at the event, another speaker, Mr Yele Okeremi, CEO of Precise Financial Systems says today’s world is about disruptions and it has now come to the point where ”distruptors are now getting disrupted”.
The CEO of Precise Financial Systems says that, “it is important for us to look into small areas affecting our communities and be the ones to solve it, disruptions happen within us and it happens everywhere.”
He explains that “in the past people go through a lot of hassles to make international calls but today we sit down in a small room and make a video call outside the country. A few years ago, that is tantamount to witchcraft. How can you be here and attending a meeting in London? But that is disruption.”
Okeremi encouraged Nigerians hoping to be distruptors to continuously improve and tells them to avoid being realistic but idealistic and also conduct research to find out what is happening everywhere.