November 8, 2022
ATCON Memorandum on
Digital Innovation & Entrepreneurship as a panacea for Challenges to Sustainable Economic Development in Nigeria
for the consideration of National Council on Communications and Digital Economy (NCCDE)
Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON)
PURPOSE OF THE MEMORANDUM:
The purposes of this memorandum are as captured here under:
- To drive digital innovation and entrepreneurship through local production of Digital technology in Nigeria.
- To accelerating economic growth and sustainability.
- To promote Local content through local manufacturing of electronic devices
- To address the current imbalance in our Nation’s Balance of payment as Nigerians have been reported to spend several billions on the purchase of electronic gadgets like phones, laptops and a host of other related electronic devices and this has led to the continuous devaluation of our currencies.
- And to radically create a sustained awareness among Federal Governments, State Government, Local Governments and Agencies (Federal and State) in order to get their quick buy-in for various initiatives being pursued by the Federal Government, telecom and ICT Companies in order to encourage either manufacturing of digital technology locally or assembling them in Nigeria with a view to participating and benefitting from the value chain of producing these digital technology devices.
BACKGROUND, CONTEXT AND JUSTIFICATION:
The current population of Nigeria is put at above 200 million which should not only serve as a motivational factor but should serve as a strong basis for the country to adopt Digital Economy as a way to spur economic development.
The opportunities in the global digital economy is estimated to be $11.5tr, in view of this it would be appropriate for Nigeria to encourage both digital innovation and entrepreneurship so as to part take it the estimated opportunities. Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship has great potential to increate standard of living, create wealth for Nigerians who would venture into digital economy as well as improve the country’s economy in Nigeria.
Digital enabled enterprises are leveraging technologies to create economic and social benefits across areas of humans’ activity. It should be emphasis that innovation make it possible for businesses to improve their existing products, process or to create new products outrightly. Nigeria should learn from developed economy such as US, Russia, Germany, Japan and others who have benefited immensely from the efficient development of technology innovation and entrepreneurship. Recently the federal government signed into law the Nigeria Startup Act 2022, this has shown the readiness that Nigeria as a nation is poised at taken advantage of digital economy for the overall benefits of its citizens.
The number of young people that made up Nigerian population is over 60percent and majority of them are technology- centric and savvy.
The local production of digital technology would mean that Nigeria as a nation must double her efforts in respect of improving ICT Skills and digital literacy across the length and breadth of the country. To double efforts to improve ICT Skills and Digital Literacy it should be emphasized that the effectiveness of digital investments in driving the economic and sustainability will depend to a large extent on how businesses and individuals make use of digital solutions. Strong ICT skills and digital literacy are needed to optimize these local productions of digital technology and innovation in Nigeria.
ICT is an enabler of global connection and interaction, connecting the world faster and effectively. It enables knowledge transfer, adoption of best practices, market research and create job and start-up opportunities which aid e-commerce, e-learning, trading, business partnerships, financial transactions, innovation and efficiency.
Digital innovation facilitates infrastructural support for SMEs, Government and private partnerships across all sectors of the economy and promote entrepreneurships for the development of the country’s economy and GDP.
Key Challenges & threats to Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurships
While we note that Ministry of communication and digital economy is currently working to improve things various policy initiatives the following challenges serves as constrain to Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurships:
- Limited budgets for ICT sector
- No access to quality internet in some regions
- Low computer literacy in Nigeria
- Numerous cultural and socioeconomic factors
- High cost to deploy solutions
- Exchange rate issue and lack foreign exchange
- Regulatory bottlenecks and multiple taxations
- Executive power gap to the ICT policy between Federal and state government
- Lack detail digital economy insight report and data for different vertical industry
- Inadequate access to the latest technology & standards Lack of sophisticated telecommunications infrastructures in some parts of the country
- Lack of overall, harmonized digitalization policy and implementation solution from federal, state and local government level (needed for robust policy, growth plan strategy for a digitalized economy)
- Lack of expertise to lead digitalization initiatives end to end
- We request increase budget allocation for telecom and ICT development Schemes & programmes. Advocating for full use of USPF in Telecom and ICT sector.
- Adequate support for telecommunication operators, vendors and suppliers to enable ease of deployment of newer technologies within reasonable cost. They are the backbone for ICT development in the country (consideration in the following areas; taxes, cost of licenses, issuance of licenses, & other restrictive aspects that may slow down the process)
- Government sponsored free computer, digital literacy training for inclusion of all
- Need for improvement in national power supply to support these services
- Network operators have to meet strict quality standards of deployment to enhance user experience
- Constitution of a policy monitoring and enforcement committee – we request that a committee be put together which will see to the implementation of policy like Right of way. We have noticed that some states are not complying with N145 per liner meter in their respective states and this is not good because it makes further investments into sector difficult.
- We request for a telecom industry bank to cater for the need of telecom companies in the area of financing.
- Opportunity to buy Forex directly from CBN
- Strengthening, developing digital infrastructure & services(4G/5G) within the ICT ecosystem to enable quality of services
- Training human resources with relevant skills required to provide and support the growth of ICT digital economy in Nigeria
- Scholarship programmes for students in ICT relevant fields
- Strategies geared towards accelerating a digitalized economy that meets world standards
- Improve the quality of digital financial services in the country
- Creating an enabling environment for the growth of digital solutions
Promoting digital innovation and entrepreneurships would facilitate economic development, improved quality of living, simplified solutions, ease of business, quick access to information, enhance Knowledge transfer, technical knowhow and solutions that accelerate growth and sustainable economic development in Nigeria.
It is our hope that our prayers would be given the highest consideration it deserves.
For: Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON)