Stakeholders in the country’s ICT sector have spoken out about the need for Nigerians to brace themselves for the disruptions brought about by the emergence of modern technologies, especially now that the country is on the verge of experiencing commercial services based on the Fifth Generation (5G) network.
The Stakeholders spoke during a panel session at the Nigerian Information Technology Reporters’ Association (NITRA) ICT Growth Conference 2.0, held on Thursday at Oriental Hotel, Lekki Lagos.
At the first panel discussion on the topic, “The Roles of Emerging Technologies in Bridging Nigeria’s Digital Divide and Exploring Funding Options For Driving Digital Economy,” the Stakeholders were of the opinion that challenges of the post-COVID-19 era have brought about such life-transforming technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), becoming part of human existence.
Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Engr. Gbenga Adebayo said modern technologies are today challenging our way of life and mindset, noting that technologies will continue to be more disruptive.
“The fact remains that the world is moving with the speed of light, and technology is moving with the same speed. We cannot be always ready for all things, but we can be ready to be receptive to things coming,
“When new technologies are coming, do we have the capacity to withstand them? We must be ready to adapt to those things when they come. With what we have, we will be able to take care of what is coming,” Adebayo said.
Adebayo noted that the absence of basic infrastructure such as reliable power supply has led to the influx of inverter batteries into the country’s economy, and has further increased cases of vandalization of telecom infrastructure in the country.
“Sites are being vandalized, batteries stolen, about 400 fibre cuts recorded across the country. Certainly, this will be a threat to whatever we have achieved. The threat we have on our local infrastructure has made telecom service expensive,” he said.
Executive Secretary of the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr Ajibola Olude, who represented the Association’s Chairman, Engr. Ikechukwu Nnamani, while contributing to the panel discussion, stated that emerging technologies have not only contributed to bridging the country’s digital divide but have also contributed immensely to advancing a better life for the citizenry.
He said that government should see telecom operators as development partners and intensify efforts in creating the enabling environment for telecom service providers to contribute their own quota to bridging the digital divide.
In his position, the President of the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), Mr Destiny Amana who represented the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA) at the panel, stated that the digital divide could mean one or two things depending on the prism from which one is seeing it, noting that what is essential is for the country to put in place those basics that will guarantee digital divide bridging.
According to Amana, “There is no doubt that emerging technologies are disrupting many traditional institutions, making life easier for people, and giving everyone the opportunity to lead a fuller life and be prepared for a future powered by technology. Nigeria cannot afford to be in the background while other nations take the front seat in promoting the adoption of those things that bridge the digital gap.”
On funding options, the panelists were of the consensus that multiple taxations on service providers should be stopped across the country, while Foreign Direct Investment should continue to be encouraged through the provisioning of an enabling environment that would guarantee ease of doing business.
The session which was moderated by Assistant Editor at the Guardian Newspapers, Mr Yemi Adepetun, highlighted the need for all strata of government to work in collaboration with the private sector to achieve the height envisaged in 5G adoption in Nigeria.