Stakeholders pass negative verdict on ICT sector

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Leading stakeholders in the Nigerian Information Communications Technology (ICT) sector have passed a verdict that not much was achieved in the sector this year.

A cross-section of the stakeholders, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews in Lagos on Tuesday, gave the verdict, saying that the industry had only remained work in progress.

Mr Lanre Ajayi, a former President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria pointed out that one of the phenomenal things that happened in the industry this year was the visit of Facebook‘s founder, Mark Zuckerberg.

Ajayi, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Pinet Informatics Ltd., argued that the visit had put Nigeria’s ICT sector on global perspective and created a lot of awareness on the need to pay attention to ICT for job creation.

“This is an area that is gaining momentum in the ICT sector in Nigeria and I think we need to pay more attention to that as it helps to address the issue of unemployment.

“A lot of jobs can be created through ICT by driving entrepreneurship and that is why the visit of the Facebook boss became relevant.

“It acted as an opportunity for the country to showcase its potential in ICT.’’

Ajayi said that more efforts should be geared toward accelerating broadband penetration in the country.

For Mr Jide Awe, the current economic recession has a mixed effect on growth and development of the IT industry.

Awe, Chairman of the Conference Committee of the Nigeria’s Computer Society, said that notwithstanding the situation, the industry had seen great activities.

“The IT industry is not as robust as we expected it to be because of the economic recession that is affecting people’s businesses.

“There have been great activities like online activities, mobile application, capacity building, start-ups encouragement and others.

“There is now more awareness on the benefits and opportunities associated with the use of IT in doing business and daily life activities.’’

Awe said that the announcement by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on broadband penetration reaching 21 per cent was a welcomed development.

He said that with concerted efforts the target of 30 per cent penetration by 2018 would be reached and surpassed.

Awe advised the NCC on the need to license more infrastructure companies in all geo-political zones in the country, saying there was also need to make the environment conducive.

He noted that incessant levies on infrastructure and companies, also limited affected operations and performance in the industry.

Awe said that start-ups got encouragement, saying that such encouragements would lead to economic growth and job creation.

He argued, however, that the National Cybercrime Advisory Council set up by government was not living up to its expectations.

The ICT entrepreneur said that much had been achieved in youth empowerment in ICT but that the impact would not be felt because empowerment was concentrated mainly in urban areas.

Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, the President of the National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers, said that the NCC, the regulatory body had focused on policies that ought to be sustained.

He noted that the commission had also tried to look at consumers’ complains on unsolicited messages by introducing the ‘2442 Do Not Disturb’ code.

“There is not really much this year. Some of the spectrum advertised to be sold may be done next year,’’ he said.

Ogunbanjo said that one of the worrisome issues for the year was the introduction of the nine per cent Communication Service Tax Bill by the legislative and executive arms of government. (NAN)

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