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ITU tasks African governments on adoption of future technologies


ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has commended Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Egypt and other African countries for the dynamism the region has brought to global technology adoption.

For emphasis, the ITU Secretary-General, Zhao Houlin, at the opening press conference of the on-going ITU Telecom World 2017 in Busan, South Korea, yesterday, declared that in the last one year, the African continent has been very dynamic in ICT development, stressing that the region’s growth has been phenomenal compared to others.

He, however, tasked governments in the region on quick adoption of future technologies including 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Broadband deployment, among others.

According to him, as the world enters the Fourth Industrial Revolution, both the public and private sectors should expedite preparations for the changes future technologies would bring.

The ITU Secretary-General noted that there is no doubt technologies such as AI and machine learning have great potential to change and improve lives across the world, ‘’but societies and citizens must be prepared for the changes that will come and for the new skills that will be required.’’

Houlin disclosed that given the pace at which technology is advancing, governments, international organisations and the private sector would need to start working together now to help steer the right course through the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Houlin lamented that even as at today, more than half of the world’s population is still offline, stressing that about 3.9 billion people are unable to benefit from the positive impact that ICT could have on their lives.

He informed that the ITU together with its members and partners, are committed to leaving no one offline.

In Nigeria, some 200 communities, which house about 40 million Nigerians do not have access to any telecommunications services, but the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said it is working to bridge the gap.

The ITU Secretary-General said in order to bridge the growing gap, attention is shifting towards empowering the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across the globe.

“In addition, I have sought to bring more focus and attention to the key role of both SMEs and academia to finding new and innovative solutions in today’s digital world,’’ he stated.

Meanwhile, all the five Nigerian technology SMEs pitching at the conference have entered the last stage of the exercise. The SMEs are competing with 16 others from South Africa, Rwanda, Poland, Indonesia, Sudan, Azerbaijan, Japan and the United States of America. The winner and grant involved would be announced on the last day of the conference.

Speaking with reporters, the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, said Nigeria is committed to meeting the National Broadband Plan, which eyes 30 per cent penetration by next year.

According to him, part of the drive towards enthroning a smart and digital revolution is broadband deployment, which requires among others, enabling policies and institutions; human capital development; vibrant ICT sector; necessary ICT infrastructure and ICT applications.

He disclosed that part of the ICT applications are what the Nigerian SMEs have presented at the conference.

Danbatta said the solutions brought by the SMEs will address issues that have to do with local initiatives; incentives, among others.

According to him, everything needed to make the digital transformation going on in Nigeria a success would be done.

In terms of wooing investors to the country, Danbatta said the commission came to Busan with messages that will drive investments to the country, which include the population that is any investors who want to sell can come to Nigeria.

He revealed that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan has several incentives to potential investors including the relaxation of the monetary policy; waivers; ease of doing business; Executive Order on transparency and efficiency in public service requiring agencies to quickly grant approvals on projects.

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