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ATCON advocates improved data usage to drive digital economy

By Adeyemi Adepetun
29 September 2021   |   3:33 am
Telecommunications companies of Nigeria believe more data usage would enable actualisation of the country’s digital economy target.

Nnamani

• ADA honours illustrious Nigerians in ICT ecosystem

Telecommunications companies of Nigeria believe more data usage would enable actualisation of the country’s digital economy target.
  
Under the aegis of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), the operators said Nigeria is still far from generating the volume of data that will make it (data) the new oil for Nigeria.
  
The President of ATCON, Ikechukwu Nnamani, said there is need for more local content data generation in Nigeria, stressing that information has to move from people and business-based to machine-based if the country is to generate adequate data to make data Nigeria’s new oil.

  
Speaking virtually at the 2021 ICT Impact CEO Forum, organised by Africa Digital Awards (ADA), with the theme: “Data: The New Oil of the Digital Economy,” Nnamani, who described the digital economy as the network of economic activities, commercial transactions and professional interactions that are enabled by information and communications technologies, noted that it can be succinctly summed up as the economy based on digital technologies.
  
According to him, the digital economy extends well beyond digitisation and automation, but isn’t limited to hyper-connectivity, the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, advanced analytics, wireless networks, mobile devices and social media.
  
Nnamani, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Medallion Communications Limited, said the digital economy uses these technologies, both individually and in concert, to rework traditional exchanges and enable new ones.      He revealed that Nigeria is missing in key cloud services platform location, suggesting that hyperscale data centres must be located within Nigeria to make the key cloud service platform to be located within the country.
  
The Medallion boss also said that Edge data centres are needed for effective storage and distribution of content across the country to ensure efficient service delivery and readily oil the economy.
 
He disclosed that the international connectivity of Nigeria’s data distribution network is robust, having five active submarine cables, with more coming and satellite networks already in place.
  
But he said the national network is not efficient and needs a lot of work, stressing that only Lagos has a robust metro transmission network in place. He added that the last mile to subscribers is still not robust across the country.
  
Nnamani said data usage in Nigeria is still mainly in the people and business arena, stressing that to make data the new oil in Nigeria, equipment “IoT” must use data more.
  
He added data security is key when Nigeria goes full digital with privacy and right of the owners of the data still a work in progress in Nigeria.
   
On his part, the CEO of VDT Communications, Biodun Omoniyi, while quoting the NCC, said Nigeria’s data usage rose by 202 per cent in three years from 2018 to 2020. He said data is capable of becoming the new oil if plans are intact to drive it.
  
Omoniyi said the telecoms sector is already the new oil, especially in Nigeria with the highly dwindling oil fortunes. He said the fact that the telecoms sector globally and in Nigeria is largely driven by the private sector gives it tremendous room for growth.
     
However, he said governments around the world and including Nigeria need to create growth-oriented policies and provide enabling environments for the full potentials of data to be harnessed.
  
“Data has enormous potential to displace oil in leading the global economic growth now and the foreseeable future,” he stated.
     
He disclosed that the size of the global telecoms market, which is generally driven by data, was $1.53 trillion in 2020, and expected to rise to $1.707 trillion by the end of 2021 and $2.467 trillion in 2028.
   
In his keynote address, the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the concept behind “data is the new oil” is that just like oil, raw data isn’t valuable in and on itself, but, rather, the value is created when it is gathered completely and accurately, connected to other relevant data, and done so in a timely manner.
   
He said when properly refined, usable data quickly becomes a decision-making tool – information –allowing companies to react to market forces and be proactive and intentional in their decision-making.
   
Just as oil requires infrastructure for storage and transportation, Danbatta said data requires infrastructure in the form of software and hardware.

“Any business that wants to maintain data for analytics will need technology for collecting the data and storing the data. This technology can range from on-premise data servers to databases and data lakes maintained in cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

  
“The bottom line is that you need a data management system with both a place to keep your existing data and tools for acquiring and storing more data. A second critical issue is the privacy and protection of data. The Commission is currently working on a regulatory instrument to manage data collection and utilisation in the Nigerian communications sector,” Danbatta stated.

MEANWHILE, some illustrious Nigerians were awarded with Africa Digital Award (ADA). Dr. Abimbola Alale was honoured with most outstanding satellite communications personality of the year; most outstanding ICT governor went to Ondo state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu; most outstanding telecoms personality was handed the NCC Evc, Danbatta.

Most outstanding e-Government personality of the year was given to NITDA DG, Kashifu Inuwa; most outstanding Fintech personality of the year went to Femi Adeoti; Omoniyi of VDT bagged the broadband personality of the year, while Nnamani of ATCON was awarded entrepreneur personality of the year.

Wale Obadare was given cyber security personality of the year, while Dr. Seyi Akindeinde was also awarded the cybersecurity personality of the year.

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