Indo-Africa ICT Summit: Nigeria ready to adopt India’s pathway to technology growth

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By Prince Osuagwu

INDIA is globally recognised as a shining example to all developing economies due to its giant strides in Information and Communications Technologies, ICTs. The country has grown to be the world’s largest sourcing destination for the Information and Communications Technology, ICT, industry, accounting for approximately 67 per cent of the $124-130 billion market.

The industry employs about 10 million workforce and more importantly, leads the economic transformation of the country, altering the perception of India in the global economy.

Unique Selling Proposition

India’s cost competitiveness in providing IT services, according to India Brand Equity Foundation, is estimated at three to four times cheaper than the US, and continues to be the mainstay of its Unique Selling Proposition, USP, in the global sourcing market.

However, India is also gaining prominence in terms of intellectual capital with several global IT firms setting up their innovation centres in the country. The ICT industry has also created significant demand in the Indian education sector, especially in engineering and computer science.

Market Size: Several statistics favour the country as one to be adopted by others desiring to achieve success in ICT economy. India’s technology sector (including hardware) generated revenues of $160 billion during the 2016 financial year compared to $146.5 billion in 2015, implying a growth rate of 9.2 per cent.

The contribution of IT sector to India’s GDP rose to approximately 9.5 per cent in 2015 financial year, from 1.2 per cent in 1998. The top five IT firms contribute over 25 per cent to the total industry revenue, indicating the market is fairly competitive. The Indian IT sector is expected to grow at a rate of 12 to14 per cent in the 2016-17 financial year. The sector is also expected to triple its current annual revenue to reach $350 billion by 2025 financial year.

Indian start-ups: A report on Indian start-ups reveals that employees from 12 start-ups, including Flipkart, Snapdeal, Makemytrip, Naukri, Ola and others, have gone on to form 700 start-ups on their own, thereby expanding the Indian start-up ecosystem and leading the country, with more than 4,200 start-ups, to rank third among global start-up ecosystems.

The country’s banking and security firms are expected to spend up to $7.8billion on Information Technology this year, representing a growth of 8.6 per cent year-on-year just as the country’s internet economy is expected to touch $146.72 billion by 2018, accounting for five per cent of the country’s GDP.

Indian similarities with Nigeria: Meanwhile, despite the often touted similarities between Nigeria and India, including huge population, large markets and strong religious backgrounds, the two countries are poles apart in the ICT economic system. Nigeria, despite being the giant of Africa and emerging markets’ fastest growing ICT economy, is desperately in need of ideas to strengthen its ICT ecosystem.

This is more surprising, considering the fact that the two countries have had a close trade relationship that has lasted  almost 60 years. The relationship has seen over 35,000 Indian nationals and a vast majority of Indian companies operating in various sectors of the Nigerian economy. It also saw trade between Nigeria and India hit $10bn in 2016 with a promise to get even bigger in the 2017-18 financial year.

Indo-Africa summit

However, the two countries appear to have now decided to expand the scope of their relationship to include sharing development ideas and strategies, events and technology knowledge, beginning with an ICT conference tagged Indo-Africa summit, kicking off in Lagos today.

The event organised by the Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council, TEPC, in conjunction with the National Association of Software and Services Companies, NASSCOM, of India, is meant to help Nigeria learn the Indian pathway to ICT success, as well as offer the Africa’s continent a huge opportunity to learn and adopt new strategies for technology growth. The summit is specially designed to seek the input of the two countries in developing and advancing African ICT ecosystem.

Nigeria’s green evolution

It is expected to attract over 200 companies from India as well as companies in 14 countries across the globe that may not only invest in Nigeria’s ICT ecosystem but also contribute significantly to Nigeria’s effort to implement the green evolution.  This will make Nigeria self sufficient in agriculture and at the same time  produce for export to other countries to lessen the  dependence on oil export.

Nigerian ICT professionals, including the Minister of Communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, will meet Indian counterparts at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, where the event takes off, today. Also to join the team is the Ghanaian Minister of Communications, Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, as the two day event will see the two African ministers join forces with their Indian counterpart, Shri Manoj Sinha to fashion out the future of Africa’s Information and Communications Technology industry.

Expressing hope that the event will strengthen Africa’s ICT ecosystem, Director-General of TEPC, Shri Rajesk Kumar Bhatnagar said; “Digital Transformation has made it imperative for all the developing nations in Africa and India to share their experiences on embracing digital technologies, digital competencies, digital literacy for re-inventing lives and all aspects of human society.”

Topics for the conference range from training to regulation in telecom sector, as well as convergence of IT and telecom, e-health, e-governance, e-education, e-finance, infrastructure, new technologies, standardisation, spectrum auction and optimisation, licensing, evolving needs of consumers, service providers, to mention a few.

Speakers at the event will include the newly appointed Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communications, Alhaji Abdulaziz M. Abdullahi, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami and the Managing Directors of Galaxy Backbone, Mr. Yusuf Kazaure and Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited, Mrs. Abimbola Alale, as well as the Director-General of the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, Engr. Aliyu Abubakar Aziz.

In support of the event, Communications Minister, Adebayo Shittu pledged that Nigeria would not fail to adopt pathways of success of other countries, including India in the country’s quest to get more investment into the Nigerian ICT sector.

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