Experts in Nigeria’s telecoms industry have emphasized the need for urgent review of the nation’s infrastructure so as to position the country to massively reap the benefits of a digital economy.
The experts who during a panel discussion at the just concluded NITRA ICT Growth Conference 2.0 with the theme: Creating a Digital Ecosystem in Nigeria: The Hurdles, The Gains’, noted that efforts at building Nigeria’s digital economy cannot yield the much-desired fruit unless there is sustained commitment on the part of the government to prioritise the provision of infrastructure.
According to the Chief Financial Officer of Medallion Data Centre Limited, Mr Seyi Olarenwaju, infrastructure is going to play a vital role in enhancing digital systems in Nigeria’s digital ecosystem saying that “if there is no infrastructure in place, there is nothing.”
He stated that since governance has now been replaced by electioneering campaigns in preparation for the 2023 general election, the incoming administration should be focused, identify a particular infrastructure, and fix it, and expressed the hope that if in this regard, power is given priority attention, a lot of things will follow suit.
Another panelist, Kelechukwu Nsofor of Rack Centre, said power is the key infrastructure that drives a data centre business, describing it as basically the livewire of any data centre.
According to Nsofor, Nigeria does not have the required capacity to drive the telecoms industry saying that the nation’s growing population has overgrown the power needs of the country adding that Nigeria is blessed with a rich reservoir of policies and knowledge expertise but expressed worries that this has not been translated to results in the country’s power industry.
He called on the government to stop the lip service that goes into infrastructure like power and actually start showing serious commitment by playing a major role in the provisioning of power infrastructure.
However in his remark, Babalola Olalekan of Phase 3 Telecoms said the government was doing enough to provide infrastructure but that there was a need for stronger synergy between the government and service providers.
“There was a document released last year called Strategic Roadmap/Action Plan: A four-year plan 2021-2024. The key performance indices released in that document classified infrastructure in such categories as soft, service and hardware.
Chidi Okpala of Galaxy Backbone, in his intervention, acknowledged the fact that government understands the importance of infrastructure in growing the country’s digital economy, noting that one of the things the current administration holds dear to its heart, is infrastructure.
“Have they done all the things expected of them as government? Maybe not. But have they made some efforts in bridging the infrastructure gap? The answer is yes. But there is a whole lot of learning, a whole lot of training in trying to create that awareness, into fully understanding how this impacts the day-to-day living of everyone.
Okpala expressed the need for policymakers to be much more intentional about what the country is doing, how it the affects everyone, and how the efforts at building the country’s digital economy can be sustained.