Despite controlling $7 billion of the total Africa’s $20 billion submarine cable investments, Nigeria’s Information and Communications Technology Development Index (IDI) by the International Telecoms Union (ITU) has further declined. This is just as stakeholders and experts in the Nigeria’s economy expressed worries over the drop in the latest ranking from 137th position in 2016 to 143rd currently on the global rating.
The latest report, which represents a significant downward in ICT development in the country, was contained in a report “Measuring the Information Society Report (MISR)” published by ITU. On the African index, Nigeria placed 15th behind countries such as Mauritius, South Africa, Kenya, Gabon, Ghana, Zimbabwe and even Cote d’Ivoire. The ICT Development Index is a composite measure that combines 11 indicators into one benchmark index to monitor and compare ICT developments between 176 countries across the world. ITU employs a three-dimension framework to measure the IDI in countries around the world, which include access, use and skills.
On the ‘Access’, ITU looks at the level of ICT readiness, which includes five infrastructure and access indicators such as fixed-telephone subscriptions, mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions, international Internet bandwidth per Internet user, households with a computer, and households with Internet access). On the ‘Use’ parameter, the global telecoms regulatory body examines the level of ICT intensity, which includes three intensity and usage indicators such as individuals using the Internet, fixed broadband subscriptions, and mobile-broadband subscriptions.
The third measuring parameter is on the ‘Skills’, where IT measures the capabilities or skills, which are important for ICTs and include three proxy indicators that include mean years of schooling, gross secondary enrolment, and gross tertiary enrolment. Meanwhile, stakeholders and industry experts, who reacted to the latest report, told New Telegraph that the new ranking of Nigeria left much to be desired for a country that claims to have grown its broadband penetration to 21 per cent.
Though, the telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has given assurances that Nigeria would achieve 30 per cent broadband penetration by 2018, saying it was on course in implementing all broadband development initiatives in its kitty. President, Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Olusola Teniola, said there was “a need for the country to work with telecoms companies towards deepening their infrastructure deployment across the country.
” Also speaking with this newspaper, a telecoms industry analyst, Mr. Akin Akinbo, stressed the need for collaborations between the public organisations and the industry players so as to improve Nigeria’s ICT development index among the comity of nations. Expressing his shock at the development, the Convener of Broadband 2018 Coalition and technology expert, Mr. Danjuma Yusuf, pointed out that Nigeria’s technology landscape needed urgent intervention given its sharp stagnation and decline in recent years.
He tasked the Federal and State Governments and other relevant regulatory agencies to quickly focus on strategies that would increase the country’s global competitiveness in ICT. According to Yusuf, Nigeria has become an object of ridicule on global ICT rankings, been bested by countries with much lower Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He mentioned that with direct connections to five submarine cables, representing $7 billion investment of the total Africa’s $20 billion submarine cable investments, Nigeria has no excuse for not leading the African index ahead of South Africa (with four submarine cables), Zimbabwe and Gabon with two cables each.
He urged the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in Nigeria’s ICT sector. Yusuf cited as example, Kenya, which also launched its Broadband Policy in 2013 but is currently leading Africa in Internet penetration with over 30 million people having (67 per cent) Internet access, according to the Jumia Business Intelligence and Global System for Mobile Communication Association (GSMA) ‘White Paper 2017: Trends from the Kenyan Smartphone and e-Commerce Industry’.
He said that proactive regulation and a government- funded National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI) project rolled out hundreds of thousands kilometers of fiber optic cables across Kenya’s 47 counties. According to him, Kenya’s leadership initiatives have ensured the country remains one of Africa’s leading recipients of foreign direct investment and the fastest advancing country in ICT on the continent.
Yusuf urged speedy implementation of the five-year Broadband Plan, stating that broadband has played an outsised role in transforming societies and economic opportunities across the world, facilitating education and knowledge dissemination, enabling trade and commerce and contributing to growing entrepreneurship across the world.