FEATURE: Leveraging On Emerging Technologies To Boost Nigeria’s Economy

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    By Stellamaris Ashinze and Chiazo Ogbolu, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

    Technology adoption is a global phenomenon and the world stands on the brink of technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate with one another.

    Emerging technologies are technologies whose development, practical applications or both are still largely unrealised, such that they are figuratively emerging into prominence from a background of non-existence or obscurity.

    Emerging technologies include a variety of technologies such as Educational Technology, Information Technology, Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Cognitive Science, Psychotechnology, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.

    Information and Communications Technology (ICT) experts note that for the country to thrive in emerging technologies, there is need for a strategic multi-stakeholders’ perspective.

    The experts explain that the ongoing technology revolution needs an integrated and comprehensive response involving all stakeholders, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil societies.

    The strategic approach will ensure equal opportunity to help everyone, including leaders, policy makers and people from all income groups and nations, to harness converging technologies.

    The experts call on government to make sure that it also contributes to the country adopting emerging technology and creating an enabling environment that will ensure the adoption is a swift one.

    An ICT expert, Mr Jide Awe, says adopting the emerging technologies needs a deliberate strategy which will come from the government.

    According to him, the country is trying in terms of enabling environment with the improvement of broadband penetration but more needs to be done.

    “Some of these technologies we are talking about are dependent on broadband and high speed internet, so if we don’t have high speed internet, broadband penetration, we will not be able to fully exploit the technologies.

    “The 30 per cent target that government has reached is not sufficient. It is not ambitious enough for a country like Nigeria; so we need to work more on these things,’’ he said.

    Awe points out that government is also creating enabling environment in terms of awareness, in terms of funding, in terms of strategies that would attract investors to the industry.

    He advises government that as the technologies are complex there is need to build human capacity so that Nigerians would not become slaves to foreign technologies.

    Awe says presently, what exists are individual initiatives, mentioning that there is need to understand that collaboration with government inform of infrastructure which is broadband, would go a long way in adoption.

    “We have a huge human capital that is not being utilised; a huge build-up in terms of start-ups but the motivation is not there and this calls for training,’’ he said.

    Mr Segun Aina, President of Fintech Nigeria and Africa Fintech Network calls on government to have a multi-stakeholders perspective to achieve viable financial inclusion for an all-through Financial Technology (FinTech).

    According to him, government needs to have a multi-stakeholders’ perspective and should not see themselves as the all in all.

    Aina suggests that government should involve other key players in the industry and work together to implement policies and ideas that can help to actualise its ideology and a better ICT sector.

    “We know that the private sector is always ahead in innovations but a proper government regulation in technology and Fintech, will support whatever we are doing.

    “It will also encourage and promote all the efforts that the private sector is making; because if the government is not doing the right thing, it will stifle new innovation.

    “New innovations will lead to job creation and better living standards of individuals in the country,’’ Aina said.

    He notes the need for digital transformation across the world has called for improvement of the policies on ground and coming up with a lot of initiatives that will move the country forward in terms of technology.

    “I think that we need to move a lot faster in terms of support from the government and some government agencies that are involved in technology regulations or technology promotions.

    “We are hoping that the second term of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration will assess the situation on ground and learn from the successes and failures of the past four years in the area of technology.

    “There is need to come up with new ideas, new initiatives and new ways of promoting technology and new ways of supporting financial services,’’ he said.

    Aina, however, notes that there is need for government to coordinate so that so many institutions will not be doing the same thing.

    Mr James Emadoye, former President, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), urges government to revamp the educational sector.

    According to him, government should strategise and ensure that contents and technologies used in the country are local.

    “When you have a population range of 15 to 54 years who are restless and active and are producing all sorts of things that Nigeria needs but the products are not being utilised, what would be the outcome?

    “We need to look inwards and produce local items that we need in Nigeria,’’ Emadoye said.

    He called on the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and National Office for Technology Acquisition Promotion (NOTAP) to ensure that all government agencies utilise local technologies.

    “For emerging technology in the software industry, government must make sure that in the procurement system, no government agency procures foreign technology, ’’ he said.

    Industry experts agree that there is need for improvement in the ICT sector.

    They note that adoption of emerging technologies will create a new phase of life for the people.

    The experts are of the opinion that adopting emerging technologies with proper budget allocation will go a long way in contributing to the development of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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