Experts decry challenges in ICT industry, suggest way forward

Infrastructure deficit and rising cost of equipment are stalling the growth of  Nigeria’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry, an expert has said.

Mr Adeolu Ogunbanjo, the President of the National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS), made the observation on Friday.

Ogunbanjo assessed the performance of the industry in the first quarter of 2024.

He spoke in Lagos in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

He said that the ICT industry had been a pillar of Nigeria’s economy but was being hindered by increases in the costs of deploying technologies and other equipment in base stations and other places.

Ogunbanjo said that the Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy,  Mr Bosun Tijani,  had been doing much in the area of job creation and funding of startups but would need to do more to ensure more support for the telecommunications sector.

He said that incessant increases in the prices of equipment would result in increased cost of services  to subscribers.

Mr Rogba Adeoye, Executive Secretary, Information Technology Systems and Security Professionals (ITSSPs),  told NAN that the ICT industry had not been  segregated enough for more effective service delivery.

Adeoye, who said that Tijani’s  office focused on innovation, communication and digital economy, urged that more attention should be paid to all of them because of their importance to the growth of the ICT industry.

‘’The ministry should not focus on one aspect. There is need for capacity development, effective monitoring and coordination of the digitisation process.

‘’The Federal  Government should be willing to support its number one digital infrastructure which is the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) because it has so many issues,” Adeoye said.

According to him, NIMC will be the pride of the country if properly equipped.

He urged removal of bureaucratic bottlenecks hindering NIMC  operations.

Adeoye  called for increased budgetary allocation for the ICT sector to facilitate growth.

The executive secretary called for increased government support for telecommunication companies to tackle their challenges and deliver better for the growth of the ICT sector.

He appealed to governments  to also support workshops and seminars on capacity building of technicians by the Nigeria Computer Society and related bodies.

Mr Yemi Odutola, External Relations Team Lead at Women Technology Empowerment Centre, said that the ICT industry recorded laudable initiatives in the first quarter of 2024 but still faced challenges.

Odutola said that there had been  brain drain in the ICT sector  and it was affecting the performance of many financial institutions.

“At state level, the right of way for laying fibre optic cables still needs local education and co-operation.

“On skill gap, more statistics are needed to address it by governments and NGOs,” he said.

He, however, said that Tijani had  shown commitment to advancing the ICT industry.

He urged the minister to do his best to grow the industry, adding that stakeholders should give him desired support.

“The minister  has to ascertain areas where the industry is lagging behind so as to draw up projections and strategies that can enhance growth,” Odutola said.

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