‘Government investments in ICT can create more entrepreneurs, billionaires’
This was the view of the Chairman, Zinox Technology, Chief Leo Stan Ekeh, when he granted an interview to the Cable Network News (CNN) in Lagos, recently.The basis of Ekeh’s submission is that with several calls on the Federal Government to diversify the economy, especially now that there is recession, the only non-oil option would be the ICT sector, which has continued to weather the stormy challenges.
Last July, the investment profile in the telecommunications sector climbed to $68 billion, of this figure, $35 billion came from Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).Before now, stakeholders in the industry have also canvassed more investments in the sector. Speaking with The Guardian, the Chief Executive Officer of MainOne Cables, Ms. Funke Opeke, had said that more investment in the sector would improve Nigeria’s economic growth.
Opeke submitted that going forward technology can play a big role in increasing productivity, stressing that there was the need to market what we have not only to Nigerians, but foreigners as well.
“I am hoping that as we enter into 2017, domestically, we leverage technology value chain very well and reduce our foreign consumptions so that we can boost our economy. Technology should dominate the economy.”
Going forward, Ekeh told the CNN that with the right kind of investment in technological platforms and the overwhelming support of the government in providing the requisite enabling environment, Nigeria can effortlessly produce global billionaires from the ICT sector.
Ekeh is confident that with significant investment in ICT, the challenge of youth unemployment, inadequate opportunities and growing restiveness among the youth can be arrested.
“The government has to actively engage the youths by investing massively in ICT, which has become the fancy of young people,” he stated.Ekeh is a firm believer in the numerous opportunities which abound in the rapidly evolving ICT-driven future – a knowledge economy in which wealth is no longer the exclusive preserve of a privileged few.
“The miracle of ICT is that it is the only profession in the world today that can make the child of a poor man the richest man in the world. The challenge, however, is that majority of our youths are in a closed community in which the standards are still poor so they cannot exhibit their innate intellectual strength. As a result, they are seen as defeated and a lot of them are unemployed.
“We are doing our bit to correct this situation but government support will go a long way in helping the country achieve more. Presently, Zinox is building digital training centres and tech hubs across the country and empowering many of our youths. We have also committed some significant investment in a number of tech start-ups.
“The same situation applies to many of our youths. Today, if you give these youths the right platforms, which I must say is not expensive, Nigeria can produce a minimum of 10 billionaires from the ICT sector in the next few years.”
“Ninety per cent of youths today want to go into trending professions; lifestyle professions and that is what ICT really is. If government invests in this sector as it should, Nigeria is capable of producing several billionaires straight out of the technology space”, he added.
To the President, Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, government’s focus should be in unlocking ‘local content’ in the industry and ensuring a level playing field exists to bring about increased employment for the growth in the skills set required to generate a digitally transformed industry.
Teniola posited that the investments required to fund the mobile broadband revolution must be addressed, “so all incentives and an enabling environment is put in place by the Federal Government, so that investors’ confidence is not eroded any further.”