[su_heading size=”14″ align=”left”]Jide Awe, an Innovation and Development Advisor and MD of Jidaw, in this article for the Nigeria Technology Forecast 2015 (#NGTF2015) the technology thought leadership annual by Technology Times, offers insights into Top 10 Key Trends that will shape and define the Nigerian technology landscape in 2015 and beyond.[/su_heading]
I am no prophet. But I raise these pressing issues for the tech sector in relation to aspirations from my developmental perspective especially in terms of achieving significant job generation, inclusive growth and overall sustainable development.
Beyond Consumption and Reducing Exclusion
I expect more growth in the Internet of Things (IoT) activities and environment leading to even more creative and innovative applications. Though previous years have witnessed increased access to ICT and greater presence of IT in various sectors of the economy and society, there is a need to address the persisting climate of unproductive consumption and digital exclusion (rural/urban, gender, etc). Industry should work with government and other stakeholders to drive significant focus this year on tech for innovation and inclusive development.
Addressing Foreign Domination
Even with improved access to IT and the Internet, development of technologies, activity in the IT space is largely foreign-driven and dominated. The prevailing funding and patronage scenario for local firms and providers needs to be addressed to create more of a level playing field. And most especially for boosting local content development and IT research and development. The capacity of the IT innovation fund of the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology (FMCT) should be enhanced with an eye on sustainability.
[blockquote right=”pull-right” cite=”Jide Awe, Innovation and Development Advisor & MD of Jidaw”]“IT development is a national matter and priority that has immense impact on the future of Nigeria. It is essential that Nigerians support and encourage credible politicians with innovative vision at all levels (local, state and national). Electing a pack of dinosaurs out of tune with modern day realities is developmental suicide.”[/blockquote]
Improve Telecom Adequacy
The telecommunications industry still witnessed tremendous growth, while attracting investment in 2014. However, while teledensity has improved significantly, quality of service, affordability, broadband penetration and last mile connectivity to the consumer are barriers that need to be addressed in 2015. To this end, the National Broadband Plan needs to be faithfully implemented.
Building Human Capacity in ICT
Improving Internet and broadband connectivity should usher in an expansion and increased availability of virtual learning opportunities. Along with improving ICT access, the formal educational sector should de-emphasize “paper certification” and embrace the 21st century knowledge culture that promotes and supports innovation. Enhancing curriculum in educational programmes majoring in IT specialization through the incorporation of entrepreneurship, lifelong learning, cybersecurity, creative thinking, innovation and industry practice should be to be prioritized.
Growing the Online Sphere Initiative
The online sphere is home to considerable progress – online stores, business and social networks. More expansion is expected in the online sphere with growth in consumption. Enhanced policies and security measures should start to feature more prominently in the e-payment/e-commerce landscape. Service and support issues should be prioritized. Growth in mobile money uptake is highly anticipated.
Scaling up of Initiatives
Software development, entrepreneurship, Nigerian content development in ICT, youth empowerment, digital gender mainstreaming and research initiatives of FMCT and National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) should attract priority attention. Strategic partnerships should be employed in the scaling up of promising interventions for faster, sustainable results. IT parks should be used in support of innovative ideas in IT and the harnessing of Nigeria’s youth potential.
Policy Review and Update
Policies provide direction towards to fulfillment of vision. NITDA and FMCT should facilitate multistakeholder policy review and update to close policy implementation gaps and to ensure policies are relevant and effective. Stakeholder participation and consultation in policy development needs to improve in 2015. FMCT and NITDA should as a matter of urgency work with stakeholders to fast track the enactment of draft bills that will accelerate IT development in Nigeria. Most ICT policy work has been done at the Federal level, the States need to start filling policy gaps in their domains.
Because of the impact of cyberspace on the nation’s social and economic life, national security now encompasses the digital environment. Despite growing awareness, Cybersecurity will continue to lag behind tech developments. It is imperative that stakeholders such as NITDA, the Information Technology Systems and Security Professionals (ITSSP) Group of NCS, security agencies and other Infosecurity entities work together to put information security strategies, policies, legislation and culture in place. Improved overall cybersecurity awareness and capacity should be a national strategic goal in 2015.
Mobile technology should be embraced at all levels to leverage on Nigeria’s improving teledensity for strong growth, financial and digital inclusion and to address Nigeria’s developmental issues. The mainstreaming of mobile into development will reflect through the development of feasible and sustainable mobile initiatives relating to mobile money, mEducation, mHealth, mAgriculture, etc.
Social media will be used extensively during the 2015 elections for communicating with the electorate, shaping the big issues during electoral process as well as actual election monitoring. IT development is a national matter and priority that has immense impact on the future of Nigeria. It is essential that Nigerians support and encourage credible politicians with innovative vision at all levels (local, state and national). Electing a pack of dinosaurs out of tune with modern day realities is developmental suicide. Those who must lead at this time must be those who are committed to ensuring the game changing nature and ability of IT is used to drive development.
I hope you find this useful. May 2015 be a year for fulfillment and progress for the tech industry and profession!