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Innovation as catalyst for Nigeria’s competitiveness

By Adeyemi Adepetun
27 July 2016   |   2:45 am
Technological innovation and Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) represent a way developing nations can foster economic development, improve levels of education and training ...
Exhibition stands at Techplus 2016: Inset: participants PHOTOS: FEMI ADEBESHI-KUTI

Exhibition stands at Techplus 2016: Inset: participants PHOTOS: FEMI ADEBESHI-KUTI

Technological innovation and Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) represent a way developing nations can foster economic development, improve levels of education and training, as well as address gender issues within the society.

At a time of slowed growth and continued volatility, many countries are looking for policies that will stimulate growth and create new jobs. ICT is not only one of the fastest growing industries – directly creating millions of jobs – but it is also an important enabler of innovation and development.

As such, the ICT sector is, and is expected to remain, one of the largest employers. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), in the US alone, computer and information technology jobs are expected to grow by 22 per cent up to 2020, creating 758,800 new jobs. In Australia, building and running the new super-fast National Broadband Network will support 25,000 jobs yearly. Naturally, the growth in different segments is uneven.

WEF further informed that in the US, for each job in the high-tech industry, five additional jobs, on average, are created in other sectors. In 2013, the global tech market grew by eight per cent, creating jobs, salaries and a widening range of services and products.

Findings from various countries confirmed the positive effect of ICT on growth. For example, a 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration is associated with a 1.4 per cent increase in GDP growth in emerging markets. In China, this number is predicted to reach 2.5 per cent. The doubling of mobile data use caused by the increase in 3G connections boosts GDP per capita growth rate by 0.5 per cent globally. The Internet accounts for 3.4 per cent of overall GDP in some economies. Most of this effect is driven by e-commerce – people advertising and selling goods online.

Today, numerous public services have become available online and through mobile phones. The transition to cloud computing is one of the key trends for modernization.

ICT has enabled the emergence of a completely new sector: the app industry. Research showed that Facebook apps alone created over 182,000 jobs in 2011, and that the aggregate value of the Facebook app economy exceeds $12 billion.

Indeed, at the just concluded 2016 edition of TechPlus Exhibition and Conference, organized in Lagos by Connect Marketing Limited, the need to develop Nigeria’s technology space, for it to play a stronger role was part of the deliberations, which also featured germane industry issues including connectivity and business development; smart and connected city, among others.

The three-day event, which held at the Eko-Hotel and Suite, had over 10,000 participants and notable technology thought leaders in and around the world, who provided insight into how Nigeria and indeed Africa can disrupt the global technology space and carve a niche for itself.

Giving her opening remark, pioneer Minister of Communications Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, said that developments in technology are fundamentally altering the way people live, connect, communicate and transact.

These developments, in her view, have had profound effects on economic development in Nigeria and Africa at large. According to her, to promote tech advancement, developing countries should invest in quality education for youth, continuous skills training for workers and managers for all stakeholders to understand the importance of the continuous revolution.

She also added that technology has now become a key driver to development, because technological revolutions underpin economic advances, improvements in business, health systems, education and infrastructure.

“The technological revolutions of the 21st century are emerging from entirely new sectors, based on micro-processors, tele-communications, bio-technology and nano-technology. Products are transforming business practices across the economy, as well as the lives of all who have access to their effects. The most remarkable breakthroughs will come from the interaction of insights and applications arising when these technologies converge”, she stated.

Johnson, who Chairs Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), noted that today, people live in a world that is more connected than ever before. She observed that in the relatively short time since its invention, the Internet has revolutionised the world and has radically altered the way people work, play, and live.

“With little more than the touch of a button or the swipe of a screen, we can connect with friends, even if they are halfway across the world. We can check the news and the latest football scores, watch videos and play games, search for jobs, engage in political processes, prepare for natural disasters, access financial services, buy and sell goods and services.

“In fact, connectivity has become so indispensable to modern life that last year, the United Nations set a new global goal: universal, affordable Internet access for all by the year 2020. This ambitious goal underscores the importance of Internet access to global development and empowerment. But the reality is that we have a long way to go to achieve this goal. Today, over half of the world’s population is still offline. That’s more than four billion people, unable to take advantage of the connectivity and opportunities that come with Internet access”, she stated.

Johnson said over the past year, Internet use in Africa grew by just 1.8 per cent, which she said as such rate, it will take decades for Africa to reach the Internet usage levels currently seen in Europe.

The AA4I Chairperson said expanding connectivity and securing Africa’s future in the connected world of today and tomorrow requires the region to take bold action, now.

“The good news is that we already have the tools and know-how to tackle this challenge. There are three clear steps that we need to take, which are to prioritise; collaborate and create.

Also speaking at the event, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation/Youth Employment, Afolabi Imuokhuede who represented the Vice President, noted that access and application of technology has become quite critical in today’s society. He stressed that service and technology are the differentiators between countries that are able to tackle poverty effectively by growing and developing their economies, and those that can’t.

He said the extent to which developing economies emerge as economic powerhouses depends on their ability to grasp and apply insights from science and technology and use them creatively.

“Innovation is the primary driver of technological growth and drives higher living standards. As an engine of growth, the potential of technology is endless”, he added.

Chief Enterprise Business Officer, MTN Nigeria, Linda Saint-Nwafor who represented the Chief Executive Officer, the telecommunications firm, as a technology company, is always at the forefront of promoting any idea that supports technology discussion and its merits to business at all level.

Speaking on behalf of Lagos State, a director from the Ministry of Science and Technology, Jide Adenuga, urged creativity among Nigerians, stressing that such could be Nigeria’s springboard for global recognition.

On the importance of the forum and exhibition, Managing Director of Connect Marketing, Tunji Adeyinka, said TechPlus has come at the right time to tap into the buzz surrounding technology in the country.