At the recently concluded 2019 Digital Heroes Award, stakeholders and leaders within the Nigerian technology industry gathered at Radisson Blue Hotel, Lagos; a momentous occasion to mark 20 years of pioneering efforts of specialized ICT broadcast and advocacy, Justice Godfrey Okamgba reports.
Industry experts have long identified digitization as a catalyst to speed up socio-economic growth in Nigeria. With the right policies and implementation on digitization, developing nation like Nigeria stands to benefit immensely, and advance in development.
Both public and private companies in Nigeria are already embracing and deploying digital technologies to address business challenges and beef up their bottom lines.
However, these laudable developments have not completely spurred Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, to be globally recognized as a top leader in the digital ecosystem.
According to the President, Transatlantic Media Company, Dr. Bayero Agabi, the producers of AIT Infotech Network, Nigeria will need to address its regressive political and economic structure before it can be recognized as a leader in the technology ecosystem.
Nigeria’s technology industry, no doubt, has built on its momentum right from its inception in 2001 abnitio.
This has reflected on the country’s Gross Domestic Product, with the sector contributing 13.8 percent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics in its last report on sectoral performance.
According to Agabi, the story of ICT development in Nigeria has been one with lots of aches, with thumbs up at some point and thumbs down at the other point.
”From what I have seen and experienced in the industry in the past decades, individuals, skills and knowledge have been ready to make far-reaching impacts on the ICT ecosystem and the society at large.”
Agabi said the major gully posing a huge challenge to cross has been the political will to allow the digital society waiting in the wings to manifest and attain this feat.
”I don’t see technology grow to the level that Nigeria, for instance, can become a major authority without getting our political and economic structure right.
”Otherwise, the story will remain using our oil money to buy technologies, skills, maintenance, and solutions.”
He argued that the reason why the series of innovation, hubs, and initiatives from Nigerian youths haven’t moved forward is because of such individuals and groups’ efforts are aimed at money-making and exporting talents.
Speaking on what the Fourth Industrial Revolution means for Africa, he said ”to a large extent, when the first and second industrial revolutions took place in the West – when the adoption of machines and factories swept across Europe, the impact was most felt in the labor markets.
Continuing, he said the Second Industrial Revolution, which was driven by electricity and the expansion of steel and petroleum, more people swarmed the cities. ”Africa still lagged behind, ” he said.
According to Agabi, it was not until the Third Industrial Revolution, when Information Technology (IT) and Electronics transformed the lives of Africans. ”This period we saw more people striking out on their own, more job-hopping and less reliance on traditional employment.”
”And now, as we face the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we will see the barriers between man and machine dissolve. Africa has been undergoing a digital revolution for the last 15 years, and is gradually achieving the standards of the most advanced nations, ” Agabi said.
Digital Skills and Connectivity
Agabi, however, added that connectivity still trails behind the world at 21%, compared to 43% achieved elsewhere, according to International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
”Thus, the majority of African youth, as well as the continent’s Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), lack the basic skills that can enable them to take part in the digital economy.
”Consequently, there is the immediate need to provide all citizens with access to online tools and content for learning and doing business.”
Technology Driven Revolution
Explaining what technology-driven revolution means to Africa, he said, ”routine blue-collar and white-collar jobs will start becoming automated, which means that creativity, IT and foundational skills will win over traditional know-how.
According to him, employers of labor will rely less on traditional knowledge while prioritizing innovation and adaptability instead.
He said high-skilled jobs in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics will also increase.
”As you may be aware, it is already happening! Consider the enterprising spirit of African youth, and how Africans are becoming innovative in finding locally relevant solutions to daily challenges in health, agriculture, and education, among other areas.”
Explaining how best the governments in Africa should tap into this innovative spirit, and readying young people to compete globally towards ensuring faster and quicker business growth, he said:
”As we move into the new revolution, a business-friendly environment and culture of entrepreneurship will be key. Africa needs to enable the growth of businesses that are creators of technology, not only consumers of it.
”A locally skilled workforce, updated legislation in the realm of cybersecurity and data privacy, affordable bandwidth, and a culture of innovation will promote the growth of these types of businesses.
”This is significant because governments play a pivotal role in creating an enabling environment for new business models and investments.”
For Digivation, the TV Show that started as a computer link to Infotech Network and later DIGIVATION NETWORK reflects the new lifestyle dynamics across all sectors in today’s world.
It became Digivation in a bid to broaden our horizons. From Infotech Network to Digivation Network, ”we have established Africa’s first-ever converged concept that serves as a unifying platform between the media, governance, industries, education, innovation, enterprise, and entertainment as well as technology research − how technology can make life better.”
He said ”as you probably know in today’s technology-driven world, there is an increased media and entertainment consumption pattern, leveraging this gap in order to engage more audiences on a more personal and proactive level.
The Television Show captures the new realities of tech use, innovation, enterprise, and consumption across all levels, ” he said.
Here is the list of honourees/awardees at the ceremony:
Airtel Nigeria – Telecoms Digital Trail-Blazer
Gbolahan Awonuga – Industry Service Recognition
Prof. Cleopas Officer Angaye – (Gold) ICT Industry Hero
Ogbeni Rauf Arebgesola – Champion of Digital Impact in (Education)
Ajibola Olude – Industry Service Recognition
Olusola Teniola – Telecoms Star Recognition (Gold)
Austin Okere – Digital Icon
Engr Bayo Banjo – IT Industry Hero (Gold)
Sunday Mukoro – IT Star Recognition
Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta – Regulatory Excellence
Data Sciences Nigeria Ltd – Excellence in eService Delivery (Gold)
Emeka Oparah – ICT Industry Hero (Gold)
Ernest Ndukwe – ICT Industry ICON (Platinum)
Dr Evans Woherem – Digital Heroes Star (Platinum)
First Bank of Nigeria Plc – DIGITAL BANKING STAR
Akwasi Agyeman – Outstanding Industry Personality (Gold)
Hon. Ibrahim Gusau – Digital Icon
Ikeja Electricity – Excellence in eService Delivery
Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) – IT Local Content Star
Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor – IT Industry Star
Yusuf Kazaure – Digital Personality within the Public Sector Space
Medallion Communications – Excellence in Enterprise Data Centre Service (Gold)
Nasarawa State – Most Outstanding State Government Digital Capacity Initiative
Nedum Manuels – Best Online Comedy Content
Tim Akano – IT Lifetime Achievement
Fidelis Orji – Industry Service Recognition
Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd – Digital Service Star (Public Sector
National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) – Champion of Digital Identity
Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA) – Star of Digital Change
National Information Technology Development Agency – Regulatory Excellence
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (GCFR) – ICT Industry Star
Dr Omobola Johnson – IT Industry Amazon
Dr Isa Ali Pantami – ICT Industry Hero
Yele Okeremi – Best Pan Africa Financial Software Company
Patrick Ede – IT Star Recognition
Republic of Rwanda – Most Innovative Digital-Enabled Country for sustainable economic transformation
Sonny Aragba-Akpore – Industry Service Champion
SystemSpecs – Groundbreaking Fintech Solution (Remita)
Ufuoma Daro – Industry Service Champion
VoguePay – Outstanding Pan Africa Payment Solution Provider#
Wale Kalejaiye – Distinguished Cloud Service Expert
Photos from the Award ceremony: