By Kester Omu
The Broadband 2018 Coalition has noted that with direct connections to 5 submarine cables, representing $7bn of Africa’s $20bn submarine cable investments, Nigeria has no excuse for not leading the African index ahead of South Africa with 4 submarine cables, Zimbabwe and Gabon with 2 cables each.
The Coalition noted this, while expressing worries and concerns over the country’s poor ranking on the latest Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Development Index (IDI) published in the annual “Measuring the Information Society Report (MISR)” by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The latest ICT development Index rated Nigeria 143rd globally, a significant downward shift from its 137th position in 2016. On the African index, Nigeria placed 15th behind countries like Mauritius, South Africa, Kenya, Gabon, Ghana, Zimbabwe and even Cote d’Ivoire.
Thus, the Coalition believes show lack of proper planning and exploration of the country’s ICT potentials, urging the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in Nigeria’s ICT sector.
Expressing his shock at the development, the coalition convener and technology expert, Danjuma Yusuf pointed that Nigeria’s technology landscape needs urgent intervention given its sharp stagnation and decline in recent years and 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, being bested by countries with much lower Gross Domestic Product. 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%) internet access according to the Jumia Business Intelligence and GSMA ‘White Paper 2017: Trends from the Kenyan Smartphone and eCommerce Industry’. He stressed that proactive regulation and a government-funded National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI) project rolled out hundreds of thousand 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.
Mr. Yusuf urged speedy implementation of the five-year Broadband Plan, stating broadband has played an outsized 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.
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. The three-dimension frameworks used to measure the IDI are Access (level of ICT readiness which includes five infrastructure and access indicators: fixed-telephone subscriptions, mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions, international Internet bandwidth per Internet user, households with a computer, and households with Internet access); Use (level of ICT intensity which includes three intensity and usage indicators: individuals using the Internet, fixed broadband subscriptions, and mobile-broadband subscriptions) and Skills (Capabilities or skills which are important for ICTs and include three proxy indicators: mean years of schooling, gross secondary enrolment, and gross tertiary enrolment).