By Emeka Aginam & Prince Osuagwu
At the end of a capacity building eWorld forum heldÂ last week in Lagos, stakeholders in the Nigerian ICT industry were worried over snail speedÂ of broadband penetrationÂ across the nation, saying thatÂ forÂ Nigeria to leap-frog into global economy and compete favourably, deeper and wider broadband penetration across the country is very imperative for the challenges ahead.
Speaker after speaker at the event discussed among other things, how best to come up with a more comprehensive national broadband development action plan to make Nigeria an IT capable country. For majority of the speakers, there was needÂ for a more concerted effort to push the frontier of broadband development in Nigeria as a resultÂ of its impact on gross domestic product (GDP) current global focus.
According to the speakers, the effect of current limitations of international capacity out of Nigeria due to the monopoly of fibre cable infrastructure will go a long way in affecting various institutions varying from educational, political, medical and financial institutions. Given the current globalÂ recession, according to the speakers, the promotion of broadband is a sure wayÂ to stimulate the Nigerian economy and the rest of theÂ African sub-region.
Broadband which is seen as the key enabler ofÂ developed economies of the world and a pivot for leap-frogging into the 21st century society, experts at the eWorld Broadband Forum 2010 organized by eWorld magazine said is still in its lowest ebb, warning that if something is not done urgently, may derail Vision 20-2020 imperatives.
Further, speakers at the forum noted that Nigeria must wake up now and use IT infrastructure to deploy broadband so as to face the challenges of 21st century knowledge economy. A major challenge of broadband deployment in Nigeria, according to the speakers isÂ Â limited international capacity, which they believed can be tackled by the government and the telecom operators in the country.
Even thoughÂ Â significant consolidation has occurred in Nigeriaâ€™sÂ broadband sector, from over 400 ISPs two years ago to around 1500, given newÂ the opportunity toÂ entered the market with third-generation (3G) mobile and advanced wireless broadband services suchÂ WiMAX, the conference during panel discussion observed that t Nigeria and other emerging markets will continue to lag behind in the scheme of thingsÂ unless broadband internet connectivity is given priority attention.|
For the Chairman of the event who is also the President of Digital Bridge Institute (DBI),Â Prof. Ramond Akule, Nigeria will continue lagging behind in global competitiveness unless broadband deployment is given priority attention it deserves. Keying Nigeri into broadband trend, he said requires attention of the government and the telecom operators in the country.
â€œThis is the time to build capacity. Nigeria and other emerging markets will continue to lag behind in the 21st century knowledge society unless broadband connectivity is given priority attention in the national scheme of things,â€ he said, warning that low broadband penetration will cause economic harm than good in the knowledge economy.
While commending the government for liberalizing the telecommunication industry in the country, he told the gathering that Nigeria has the capacity to build infrastructure to take the country to the next.
In the opinion of Dr Chris Uwaje,Â who has warned before now the implication of porous IT network to the outside world, Nigeria may not maximize fully the digital economy unless massive investments are made in the area of infrastructure, particular f transport technologies, fiber optics, national statelites and microwave, which he said are the future trends.
â€œTime is running out .To make Nigeria an IT capable country in Africa and a key player in the information society by the year 2020, using IT as the engine for sustainable development and global competitiveness is an imperative,â€ Uwaje who has been preaching IT education among Nigeria youths said.
Similarly, Chief Operating Officer of the Information Technology Association of Nigeria,( ITAN), Mr Oluwole Owolabi in his presentation on Broadband benefits realization for vision 2020 said thatÂ broadband has remainedÂ an important factor inÂ todayâ€™s Nigeria and for the future.
For him, broadband benefits ma not be realized except all players come together to draw a roadmap, he said must be a sustained effort. â€œNigerians use 10% of mobile features.
The government needÂ to continue to invest in the rollout of fibre optic networks and last mile copper infrastructure. Nigeria needs a return to the basis to rebuild herÂ terrestrial fibre and copper infrastructure, which will bring high capacity, as well as cheap and high quality data communications,â€ he said.
In his contribution, the Chairman of Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria, Engr. Ggenga Adebayo, the technology needs to be deployed now to take the country to the next level, adding that broadband is evolving digital technologies that provide consumers a signal-switched facility offering integrated aceess to voice, high speed data service, video-demand services, and others.