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(L-r): Yele Okeremi, Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director, Precise Financial Systems (PFS); Ayotunde Coker, Managing Director, Rack Centre; and Rudman Muhammad, Chief Executive Officer, Internet eXchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) during maiden ‘Think Breakfast Series’ organized by Nigeria CommunicationsWeek and Cfatech.ng for CEOs in Lagos, recently.

tBs: Knowledge-Led Market Key To Nigeria’s Economic Dilemma – ICT Experts

Nigeria must become a thinking Nation if it will survive the coming, disruptive revolution which is upon the world.
This is the view of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) experts who were gathered at the maiden edition of ‘Think Breakfast Series’ (tBs) organized by Nigeria CommunicationsWeek and CFAtech.ng in Lagos, recently. They agree that one of the biggest steps President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government must take is to identify and address impediments to broadband penetration.
Ayotunde Coker, managing director, Rack Centre, delivered a well-researched presentation on ‘The Challenges & Importance of Building a Knowledge-Led Economy through ICT.’ According to him, Nigeria has over 180million (estimated) population with the middle class around 18 years old and gross domestic product (GDP) worth $481billion, it therefore behooves on the government and the private sector to build critical infrastructure required to stir up the knowledge-led economy.
Mr. Coker who reiterated improvement broadband penetration usually leads to 1,4% increase in GDP, noting that the key driver of knowledge-based economy relies on the transformational power of computing.
“The ‘Impacts of Broadband Penetration on economic Growth’ are obvious. Both the ITU and GSMA have stated continuously that a 10% increase in broadband penetration yields 1.4% increase in GDP. Yes, broadband penetration brings about improvement of productivity in enterprises; acceleration of innovation by new consumer applications and services; more efficient functional deployment of enterprises, access to consumers and social impact from consumer access to products, services and content.
“Knowledge economy eco system requires varying technologies to thrive particularly Fibre then of course LTE, 5G is coming into the mix now. Of course the impact and benefits of cloud services can’t be over emphasized. More so Cloud services will create significant positive impact on SMEs particularly for cost savings, optimization and efficiency.
“Now, looking at the ‘Network Readiness Index and Ease of doing business’ (EDB) ranking: Nigeria ranks behind Mauritius and South Africa at the 16th position in Africa with an NRI and EDB ranking of 119 and 169 respectively.
“But the good thing is that Nigeria’s presidency has begun to look at the EDB issue realistically. We hope it will be sustained,” the Rack Centre boss said.
On his part, Mr. Yele Okeremi, Managing Director of Precise Financial Systems (PFS) said that the ten pillars the World Economic Forum (WEF) uses to gauge nations shows that Nigeria is lagging in most of the areas like skill, knowledge and competence pillar.
Mr. Okeremi said that technology as a tool and technology professionals can assist in the enhancing the ease of doing business particularly by ensuring that e-government platforms are deployed.
He said, “Leadership is key to this transformation and leverage the new mindset of the youth by focusing more on skills rather than paper qualifications. Leadership engagement- continuous awareness, education and enlightenment of our leaders across board to understand the importance of technology and the knowledge economy is primary in achieving the knowledge-led economy, because it is what the legislator knows that he will present at the floor of the Chamber, which often times becomes laws of the land.
Also speaking, Mr. Muhammed Rudman, the chief executive officer, Internet eXchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), nodded in agreement on the need for legal framework to protect Intellectual Property (IP).
The laws when promulgated as shield for protect intellectual properties; the judges and lawyers need to be informed on the principles in order to ensure proper interpretations and enforcements.
Rudman added that funding framework for start-ups has not encouraged innovation which necessities for various channels to step up interests of angle investors in Nigeria.
“So, basically, it’s all about pervasive enabling infrastructure, learning frameworks, e-government enablement and executive drive amongst others. Opportunities include a diversified export oriented economy enhanced GDP growth of about 18%, economic and country efficiency, educational and health implications and systematic GDP impact on all value chains. We have a lot to gain from the knowledge-based economy”, he said.
Craving for local content and indigenous data hosting, Reverend SundayFolayan, President, Nigerian Internet Registration Association (NIRA), said that unlike in other climes, Nigerian call centers staff range from 24-30.
“Does it mean that Nigerians become productive from age 22. 18-22 are not skill ready. Usually call Centre staff age is 18-22, by 24 they move to Knowledge processing. It is one thing we must look into as an industry to place our young people on the right footing.
He also encouraged individuals and organizations to join in the .ng domain name crusade. “This should be default for Nigerian businesses there is increasing interest in Nigerians patronizing .ng domain companies as 80% is mainly people process.
“Change happens with a few people not with the crowd. Nigeria can change. Government pushes agriculture as the solution to our current recession. Extractive industry is important but that is not the way to go. How much do we generate from these. The leaders and laggers’ countries, what is the difference? Knowledge is the differentiator! Three categories of people: producing something the world needs, if you are wealthy, people with specialized knowledge.
Mr. James Emadoye, President, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), however, linked the journey to knowledge-based economy to quality educational sector.
To him, there is need for technology companies like Rack Centre to collaborate with educational institutions particularly universities to enable them enjoy the benefits of cloud services because it’s expensive for universities to building their own data centers, rather they should focus on knowledge delivery.
Again, he said, the existing university network and content platforms are ineffective, as it has become very expensive for universities to be building data Centre, hence they should focus on knowledge sharing.
He also called for industry support to young software developers though the use of cloud based productivity tools and services.
“Content development – whose responsibility- it’s everyone’s, but it must be structured to get real value. The key issue in knowledge economy is Knowledge and learning; therefore developing the people and managing processes within the technology chain is important. People, process and technology make knowledge-based economy happen”, the ISPON president said.
These thought leaders also proffered ‘trust capital’ as solution to many business ideas in the country, as trust enables progress and builds confidence in a business.

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