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EDITORIAL: Key drivers of ICT opportunities in Lagos

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Some have argued that the Internet is the greatest innovation ever; some believe its electricity, while others say its blockchain or Artificial Intelligence. In the real sense, if there wasn’t the Internet, there wouldn’t be blockchain, AI or any of those ICT innovations.

Today, Africa’s most populated nation still lags behind compared to countries like the United Kingdom and the US in terms of technological innovations.

In spite of this, the ICT opportunities in Nigeria today are becoming endless due to certain factors, ranging from smartphone penetration to Internet access. The duo remains the major key drivers of ICT and its opportunities in Lagos.

ICT is an acronym for Information Communication Technology. In other words, it could be termed as the Internet, Digital or Information Age; an era where information has become ubiquitous. Anybody could easily access information from the web once the person is connected to the Internet.  Gone are the days where information was being regarded as a pricey commodity. This is because Google, the largest search engine has all the information you need and that probably makes it less important to memorize everything.

Key drivers of ICT Opportunities in Lagos

  1. Smartphone penetration
  2. Internet access or broadband penetration

Smartphone Penetration

This refers to the number of SIM cards or smartphones connected to the Internet in a certain country. It is quite different from the number of smartphones. It is also important to note that not all smartphones that are connected to the Internet.

PayPal in its study ranked Nigeria 3rd in the world in online mobile shopping, with over 70 percent of the shopping done on smartphones. Although, there may be varying statistics on smartphone penetration. However, Nigeria has been up-scaling its game in this segment. Many Nigerians, especially Lagosians are buying smartphones daily and subscribing to the Internet through the various telecom service providers.

According to the 2018 report published by Jumia, Nigeria’s largest online retailer, the number of Nigeria’s mobile subscribers reached 150 million, and the number of its Internet users has climbed to 97.2 million at penetration rates of 81 percent and 53 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, Google Consumer Survey in its study revealed that only 23 percent of Nigerians use computers in 2017, while 53 percent of Nigerians use smartphones, this number is lower than South Africa’s 60 percent but higher than Kenya’s 43 percent.

Another data from GSMA’s Mobile Economy 2018 report revealed that mobile subscriber penetration in Sub-Saharan Africa will reach 52 percent in 2025 compared to 44 percent in 2017 and 48 percent in 2020.

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All these figures from different sources strongly indicate that Nigeria’s smartphone penetration has been on the rise continuously. This invariably paves way for people to start exploring the opportunities in the use of technology.

Broadband Penetration

According to the OECD, broadband penetration is measured by the number of broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants. Broadband connections comprise both fixed and wireless services offering connectivity with download speeds greater than 256kbit/seconds. Fixed services include DSL, Cable, and Fibre.

Nigeria’s telecommunications industry regulator, Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) is a key institution when it comes to broadband penetration in the country. The Commission has been on the forefront of making sure that the Internet is widely accessible to every Nigerian at an affordable price. Although telecoms service providers such as MTN, Glo, Airtel, and 9mobile in many occasions act indifferently to the consumers; the NCC ensures that Nigerians are not exploited.

Internet access or broadband penetration, according to the NCC pegs at 30.9 percent as at November 2018, leapfrogging the 30 percent target by the National Broadband Plan.

In a statement, the NCC made it clear that – in terms of broadband services, a total of 58,965,478 were connected to the Internet through 3G and 4G networks, including those provided by the Long Term Evolution (LTE)-only service providers, such as Smile and nTel.

ICT Opportunities in Lagos

  • The huge number of ICT opportunities in Lagos could be felt in two different areas.
  • ICT opportunities – Nigerian economy
  • ICT opportunities – Nigerians.

Nigerian Economy

A lot of positives have been ongoing in the ICT sector, but there are still more prospects that the Nigerian economy would record more growth through technology. Industry experts are already projecting that the huge and untapped ICT opportunities in Nigeria have the potential to eclipse oil and gas as the core source of national income in Nigeria in the future. Majority of these positive indices would likely come from Lagos where most of the tech companies are concentrated.

Over $101 million was contributed to the Nigerian economy in the third quarter of 2018 by ICT startups in the country. In the second quarter, the sector contributed 13.63 percent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). And there are still strong indications that the sector will improve going forward.

Currently, the ICT sector is one of the most vibrant industries in Nigeria, and the reasons are not farfetched. According to Statista, a global statistics company, there are approximately 76.2 million Nigerian internet users as of 2017; an increase of nearly 50 percent from the 2013 figure of 51.8 million. This presents a huge opportunity for growth in ICT as the Internet remains the backbone on which Information Technology is built.

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Economically, the relevance of ICT as perceived in the different sectors of the economy presents present opportunities. The revolutionizing agricultural sector, for instance, has ICT opportunities; the manufacturing sector has ICT opportunities, the financial sector also makes available lots of ICT opportunities for the teeming Nigerian populace.

One of the emerging industries in Nigeria is the fintech; this is a sector that has become so prominent in the economy. No doubt that the fintech could be perceived as one of those ICT opportunities in Lagos either to the Nigerian populace or economy.

The contribution of the fintech industry to sub-Saharan Africa’s economic output will increase by at least $40 billion to $150 billion by 2022, according to Financial Sector Deepening Africa, a development-finance organization. The key players in this sector are mostly from Lagos. To put all these in perspective, it simply means that the Nigerian economy has the tendency to boom through the opportunities presented by ICT.

Consequently, Nigeria has seen many technology startups emerge in recent times. Startups like Farmcrowdy, one of the leading agritech startups in Africa has found global recognition. The startup has been involved in efficiently deploying technology in the agricultural sector, a complete revolution that pulls out the barriers in the sector. This startup has attracted lots of foreign investment and that has a direct or indirect impact on the Nigerian economy.

CodeLagos class in session

Farmcrowdy has also become a hub of investment for many Nigerians. A typical Nigerian who has about N90, 000 could invest in Farmcrowdy and at the end of 7-9months gets an ROI of 12 percent, depending on the investment type. This is arguably better than having cash saved in the bank.

There are other tech startups in Nigeria that have attracted foreign direct investments, but KOBO360 Logistics is palpable. KOBO360 uses the KoboApp, a technology that connects truck owners with drivers removing the barrier that has trailed the logistics industry in Nigeria. The startup has also succeeded in securing funding from foreign investors.

ICT Opportunities to Nigerians

Developers are one of the groups that have taken advantage of ICT opportunities in Lagos. Both the newbies and the experienced are seriously reaping it off. They have attracted job opportunities to themselves and some of them are not even in a hurry to take up any demeaning jobs. The demand for mobile App and web developers are humongous. It only takes determination and dedication to learn how to develop websites and mobile Apps for those who have an interest. There are other skills too to be learned.

Digital marketers and hackers are benefiting from the ICT opportunities in Lagos. Almost every company needs a digital marketing specialist who handles and develops online marketing and sales strategy. These professionals are well paid depending on what the employer can afford. They also have the option of being independent and self-employed. All they need do is to have a product they can market online or even have an affiliate with a merger online store like Amazon or eBay.

Aside from these jobs provided by ICT, information these days has become less monetized and Nigerians are benefitting from it as well. With online platforms like Udemy, Cousera, and others any Nigerian could pick up a program or a course.  Some of these courses provide both theoretical and practical knowledge for any interested person. These skills position them to seek for jobs online or in the labor market. They also have an option of working as freelancers or on a contract basis. Two of the most popular freelancing websites in the world are Upwork and Fiver. And many Nigerians are making some Dollars through these websites.

Further, lots of caterers, bakers, designers and hair makers today derived their fundamental skills from YouTube. YouTube is considered one of the greatest innovations from Google. This video content streaming platform has become a complete knowledge box for learners. Most Nigerians who are designers today interacted with YouTube on many occasions. These are a set of skills that put food on the table for Nigerians. All these have been made very possible due to technology.

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Conclusion

Emphatically, ICT opportunities in Lagos are limitless but there is a lot of catch up to do. With the current efforts ongoing, it’s believable that Nigeria could actually deepen its Internet penetration and that means much more and deeper access to connectivity.

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@TechEconomyNG connects past-present-emerging technological impacts on Businesses, People and Cities. All Correspondence to: [email protected]

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Remi Adeyeye

    25 February 2019 at 4:18 PM

    Your article is very informative and helpful. However, I cannot imagine a scenario under which 250 Kbps could be considered broadband.

    • TechEconomy.ng

      25 February 2019 at 4:19 PM

      Thanks Remi. We do appreciate your comment and have taken note of your query.

  2. Remi Adeyeye

    25 February 2019 at 4:18 PM

    Your article is very informative and helpful. However, I cannot imagine a scenario under which 250 Kbps could be considered broadband.

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