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First Term: Experts Score Buhari Administration High On ICT



Experts Score Buhari Administration High On ICT
By Funmilola Gboteku and Florence Onuegbu

The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sector in Nigeria has witnessed tremendous growth during the first four years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

Information Technology (IT) experts attribute the growth to the various friendly ICT policies put in place by the Federal Government.

Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) in his candid assessment, says the Federal Government has done quite well in the last four years.

“I think it will be fair to say a score of 80 per cent, owing to the progress the administration has made in the past years, ‘’ he notes.

Adebayo says the industry has made a lot of progress in terms of broadband penetration; hence, achieving the broadband target and even surpassing it.

“We have more Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) coming into the ICT sector and because of the relatively stable policy of government, the industry has been able to support a number of other sub-sectors of the economy.

“So, on the average, we are able to say that the Buhari’s administration has done quite well in the last four years,’’ he says.

Adebayo says unfortunately it appears that the progress of ICT in the country is being taken for granted.

He laments that telecommunication no longer has a mention by the government as one of the priority sectors.

According to him, it should not be, because ICT is a major driver of the economy.

“We are the infrastructure of infrastructure and we think that wherever issue of development is being discussed, ICT should be in the forefront.

“Other sectors that the government is making efforts to develop are all dependent on ICT in one way or the other.

“So it would appear that we are no longer in the first line of interest of government; which should not be.

“As you know, we are in technology industry and technology is changing by the day; hence, the need for new investments, for new hardware and software.

“So we think that as part of our development as a nation, ICT should continue to be one of the issues of development that we should consider,’’ Adebayo explains.

He says there is no enough protection of the industry by government, as there are issues of base stations’ closure and seizure.

Adebayo says the industry is quite vulnerable and such vulnerability has exposed the issues of multiple taxation and multiple regulation.

According to him, taxes and levies have increased to 39 across all tiers of government in the country.

“I think that government should consider harmonisation of the taxes and levies. Telecom is on the exclusive list of the Federal Government.

“It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to protect the sector, even from issues of interference, multiple taxation and regulation.

“So in my view, the major problem that we face is the issue of site closure and multiple taxation.

“We have issue of foreign exchange and government solved the problem. So the issue of multiple taxation is something the Federal Government must look into.

“I think the time has come that government should take up ownership and protection of infrastructure. We continue to require investments both foreign and local investments; and people will not invest if the industry is unstable,’’ he says.

Ikechukwu Nnamani, the Chief Executive Officer, Medallion Communications says the Buhari’s administration has done well in the arrangement reached by the National Executive Council in respect of Right of Way (RoW) fee.

Nnamani says a number of states have been able to lower their RoW rates, which has enabled deployment of more fibre infrastructure.

Muhammed Rudman, the President of Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA) wants the Federal Government to prioritise significant investments in ICT infrastructure in the next four years.

Rudman notes that although through government’s contributions to the ICT, the  industry has been able to deepen broadband penetration by 33 per cent but more effort needs to be made in ensuring that the rural areas also benefit from it.

He explains that the government already has laid-down policies regarding the ICT industry.

“The best time to implement the policies, which include the deepening of broadband penetration and building infrastructure is now.

“My advice is actually to have an ICT roadmap, that would ensure both the government and private sector identify all the stumbling blocks in the industry and address them.

“The players in the ICT industry should actually have an agenda that they will push to the government every year, so that the sector can grow,’’ he suggests.

Rudman points out that it will go a long way if the president can also resolve the issue of RoW and multiple taxation which are some of the major challenges faced in the industry, most especially by telecom companies.

He notes that those challenges were some of the things slowing down the telecommunications industry, while urging the government to address the issues.

The NIRA boss adds that the government needs to continue investing heavily in the sector, because it has played a big role in terms of revenue generation and also creating employment for citizens.

Also speaking, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, the President of the National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) says a lot has been achieved in terms of broadband penetration during the President’s four-year tenure.

“In 2014 to 2018, broadband was between 18 to 20 per cent.

“However, according to Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), we now have 33 per cent broadband peneration, which shows that a lot has been achieved in last four years of the Buhari’s administration.

“To sustain the growth, the government should set another benchmark for 2019 to 2023 where we should be looking at a minimum of 70 per cent or more broadband penetration.

“The government through some of its agencies like NCC is ensuring that Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) develop both the rural and sub-urban areas.

“NCC is supporting infracos by giving them some money to develop their structures and services,’’ Ogunbanjo notes.

He also suggests that government needs to have refined policies that will gear the industry toward achieving 75 per cent penetration by 2025.

Ogunbanjo urges the Federal Government to invest more in the sector because the ICT industry is the future of Nigeria, aside from oil and agriculture.

Most ICT industry experts are of the opinion that President Buhari’s administration has done quite well in the ICT sector of the economy and can do better in the second term.

The expert, however, note that the industry is a work in progress.

They point out that it is imperative to tackle the challenges of multiple taxation and multiple regulation, if further growth must be achieved in the ICT industry.


Female engineers teach elderly citizens new tech trends to bridge generational gap




The Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN), Lagos Chapter, on Wednesday organised a mentorship training for elderly citizens to help them catch up with new technology trends.

The event, which was held in Lagos to commemorate the International Day for Older Persons, featured technology workshop, free health checks, discussions on Nigeria’s engineering at 63 and other programmes for elderly engineers.

The APWEN Lagos Chapter chairman, Dr Atinuke Owolabi, said the workshop on new trends in engineering was an opportunity to enhance the knowledge and skills of the elderly.

Owolabi described the reverse mentoring aspect of the training, which involved Senior Mentor to Young Mentor pairing, as the most exciting aspect of the event.

She said the topic, “Reverse Mentoring for the Female Engineers Elders on New Trends,” captured the importance of bridging generational gap in the profession.

She stressed the need for seasoned engineers to learn from the fresh perspectives of younger colleagues to stay relevant in the ever-evolving technological landscape.

“Our senior members bring a wealth of experience, industry insights, and a deep understanding of engineering principles that have stood the test of time.

“However, they can benefit immensely from the technological prowess and innovative thinking of our younger engineers.

“Likewise, our younger engineers can gain invaluable wisdom and guidance from the trailblasing careers of our elders,” she said.

She said embracing new trends and technologies would help both elders and youths to remain relevant to make meaningful contributions to the field while fostering collaboration.

“Reverse mentoring empowers the Next Generation in their career journeys and helps them unlock their full potential, paving the way for future success.

“This also creates a legacy as older engineers will have the opportunity to leave a lasting impact on the field of engineering by mentoring and nurturing the talents of those who will carry the torch forward,” she said.

Owolabi said APWEN was committed to a future where age would not be an impediment to the passion of the elderly for STEM.

She advised the older citizens to embrace the initiative to bridge the generational gap for an inclusive engineering community.

“Together, we can fulfill the promises of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for older persons, ensuring that our legacy in engineering endures for generations to come,” she said.

Mr Haastrup Adesoji, ICT Expert/Business Coach, spoke on the theme for the International Day for the Older Persons: “Fulfilling the Promises of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for Older Persons: Across Generations.”

He said the training on new trends would energise the minds of the elderly and keep them productively engaged in driving national growth.

He called on the nation’s leadership to make policies that would target the development of the mind of the elderly, insisting that age was a thing of the mind and not body.

Former president of APWEN, Mrs Idiat Amusu, who is a septuagenarian, said technology was advancing daily, hence the need for older engineers to learn new applications like AI from younger ones.

Amusu said age was in the mind and just a stage in life, adding that at 71 she was still learning and would keep learning to be mentally alert at all times.

Dr Ihmade Okokpujie, Senior Lecturer/Researcher, Afe Babalola University, Ado- Ekiti, speaking on “Reverse Mentorship Initiative” urged the elderly to have open minds towards being coached by the young.

Okokpujie, who who joined the event virtually, explained the importance of mentorship, the advantages of the initiative and the need for younger mentors to stay up to date on technology.

The guest lecturer advised elderly female engineers to engage in sporting activities to be physically active in addition to getting adequate sleep and attending conferences to improve their brains.

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Anambra ICT agency plans digitisation of legislative operations




The Anambra Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Agency, says plans are underway to digitise the state legislative processes to make residents have digital access to the laws and other legislative instruments.

Mr Chukwuemeka Agbata, Managing Director, Anambra ICT Agency, made the disclosure when he visited the Speaker of the State Assembly, Mr Somtochukwu Udeze, in his office on Monday.

Agbata said that since Gov.

Chukwuma Soludo’s administration kick started the ‘Everything Technology and Technology Everywhere’ vision, the ICT agency had taken initiatives to bring other arms of government on board.

He said that the agency had identified areas of improvement in the online presence of the State House of Assembly.

“We want to see how we can ensure that proceedings of the Assembly are digitised to enable constituents have a feel of the efforts of their representatives in the House.

“Lagos State House of Assembly has a portal with pages for the legislators, their works, motions and Bills they have sponsored, all captured for easy access by the constituents.

” This is a positive model we can borrow as a forward-looking state. We will also get for our legislators a domain name and email addresses, to ease communication among themselves.

“We want to work with the House to reproduce all the laws and bye-laws of the state in digital formats, so that in the event of any mishap, we will not be losing so much, as they must have been backed up in the cloud,” he said.

Agbata sought the collaboration of the assembly to achieve the project.

“Gov. Soludo has that vision of a liveable and prosperous smart city and as an agency, we are playing our part effectively but we need every support we can get, “Agbata said.

Also speaking, Mr Jude Emesim, a Digital Investment Lead, said that the digitisation would allow constituents’ inputs in the legislative processes and bridge the gap between the elected members and their constituents.

Responding, the speaker said the 8th Assembly under his watch is committed to doing things differently in line with the governor’s vision.

Udeze lamented that everything done in the assembly is still in analogue form compared to other states.

“Having the documentation of the state laws in digital format, will give the people access, reduce duplication of legislative efforts and ensure absence of conflict of motions and laws.

“I want to assure you that the 8th Assembly will embrace technology to ease its processes and ensure it is effective in fulfilling its obligations as an arm of government,” Udeze said.

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Embrace technology to remain relevant – ACAMB urges banks




The Association of Corporate Affairs Managers of Banks (ACAMB) has urged traditional financial institutions to embrace innovation and adapt in a changing environment to remain relevant.

The President of ACAMB, Mr Rasheed Bolarinwa, gave the advice at the association’s second National Stakeholder Conference 2023 edition in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the conference was: “Marketing Financial Services in Dynamic Times.


“As good news as this seems to be, for us as financial services providers, the rate at which fintechs and neo-banks have, and continue to transform the finance industry, is a wake-up call for the traditional financial institutions to keep up with latest innovations in order to succeed and thrive.

“Part of the imperative of these dynamic times is the demand on us in the industry to embrace innovation, adaptation, and agility if we must remain relevant in today’s marketplace,’’ he said.

According to him, the topic underscores the dynamism of the times we live in and the impact on the financial services industry.

Bolarinwa said among the key indicators of these dynamic times were macroeconomic headwinds that redefine the financial market as well as other markets across the board.

He added that rising inflationary trend, purchasing power parity and supply shocks occasioned by foreign exchange scarcity had a significant impact on production and ability of people to save money and invest.

He said digitalisation was also a major trend that was rapidly disrupting the general ecosystem including the financial services sector.

Bolarinwa noted that consumer’s behaviour was being altered as the mode of buying and selling shifted from the brick-and-mortar traditional mode to online purchases, while fostering increasing adoption of digital payment systems.

According to him, it is not just that; demand for safer, faster and cost-efficient services is also getting higher as consumers become more sophisticated while competition also gets fiercer by the day.

The Lead Partner, CMC Connect LLP, Mr Yomi Badejo-Okunsanya, urged financial institutions to rebuild customer trust by finding new ways to meet their needs.

According to him, a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers Ltd. reveals that only 39 per cent of Nigerians trust their banks in contrast to the global average of 56 per cent.

He said, “this lack of trust impedes financial inclusion and digital service adaptation.

“When you are promoting your product, you make it look easy in the promotion but when I get there you make it very difficult.’’

Okunsanya urged the banks to know their customers and market, adding that the era of mass marketing was gone.

He said, “in those days when you wanted to sell financial products, you just put a couple of pretty girls in a sweet looking car and sometimes, the higher their skirt line, the better; but you cannot do that anymore.

“A customer has become so aware; the issues of corporate governance does not allow that anymore and also how many banks were there in those days compared to how many they are now? So, competition is key.’’

He also advised financial institutions and other industries to create a strong and active research and development unit in order to succeed.

Okunsanya noted that institutions were not investing enough in research and service.

He added that innovation and digital revolution was one of the most significant effects of the digital evolution in finance urging banks to democratise financial services, among others.

NAN reports that ACAMB is a body of corporate affairs and marketing communication professionals in Nigerian banks.

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