The Naira has weakened immensely over the last six months yet in characteristically optimistic fashion Nigerians are pushing the digital sector to re-invigorate the economy. Even President Muhammadu Buhari championed Nigeria as one of the world's largest and fastest growing telecoms markets during the US-Africa Business Forum a fortnight ago.
The 7th annual Nigeria Com showed a clear ambition from all participants from the offset, to utilise technology and telecommunications to stimulate growth and development of a digitally-led, knowledge-based economy.
While the macro-economic outlook in Nigeria is more challenging than ever, paradoxically this remains Africa’s largest economy in GDP terms and Africa’s most populous nation. With that in mind the opportunity for technology to scale quickly in Nigeria is still attractive for investors. The challenge lies in providing the level of connectivity and reliable broadband services to consumers and businesses to help develop the sector.
NigeriaCom plenary panel: Enhancing content integration to bridge the digital revenue gap – the rise of data driven services through smart devices
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Nigeria’s ITU Organising Committee gave an insight into the Smart Communities agenda for creating a digital Nigeria. While the sentiment for Smart Communities was felt among participants, the challenge of digital skills development was overlooked here and in later sessions it was highlighted as a critical area where more investment and attention is needed.
The debate continued during a select panel of incubators, start-ups and those passionate about developing the bottom end of the pyramid including Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr (CFA) of Tech Trends – Channels TV, Wole Odetayo of Wennovation Hub, Olatorera Oniru of DressMeOutlet.com among others. The salient point was that more needed to be done on the policy front to protect and develop small Nigerian businesses in the wake of large multi-internationals taking prime position in the market.
The Telecoms Leader’s Roundtable set the tone for development of more robust broadband networks as the catalyst for this digital economy growth. Leaders from Airtel, ntel, Avanti and the NCC shared views on how spectrum transformation is key to unlocking the opportunity in this sector, creating faster and more affordable connectivity hinged on collaboration between telcos and the regulator.
Networking at Nigeria Com 2016
At the front end of the digital sector a stellar panel put the digital entertainment sector to rights, looking at how to bridge the gap between content and data uptake. Nigerian ARPU is still low considering the high levels of mobile penetration in the country. A fine selection of minds leading digital development from Adia Sowho, Director of Digital Business at Etisalat Nigeria, Daniel Price at Perform Group & Goal.com and Oye Akideinde of BOOM Player at Tecno Mobile among others looked at the future of digital entertainment through the mobile. A key take away was the need to tap into local resources and local content production that would enable digital business growth.
Collocated at Nigeria Com was the Enterprise ICT Leader’s Forum which facilitated the CIOs and CTOs of major enterprises for another year at the show. There was big focus on the fundamental impacts of IoT on Nigerian businesses and establishing what the future role of an ICT leader would look like with the continual convergence of CIO and CTO roles.