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Stakeholders seek full convergence in ICT sector

Emmanuel Elebeke

The new bride in the Africa’s information and communications technology (ICT) landscape today seems to be convergence. No wonder it dominated discussions at the annual IT Edge West Africa convergence forum held last week, in Lagos.

The event, which is in its fourth edition attracted stakeholders and captains of industry in the West African sun-region. The participants in unism agreed that the West African countries, particularly Nigeria which is leading ICT market in the continent must begin to apply world best practices as applicable in other part of the world.

Part of the ways to do that, according to them, would be to ensure institutional, regulatory and infrastructural convergence in their ICT sector, to leap frog from their present status.

Eminent speakers and ICT experts who took their turns to speak on various topics at the event, also reasoned that since nations in the developed world have achieved efficiency and unlimited growth in their own ICT sector, through  the application and adoption of a seamless digital convergence, it therefore behooves on the West African countries to join the train of convergence, if they hope to move at the same speed with the rest of the world.

This according to them can be achieved faster through collaboration and converted efforts of both the government and the private operators.

Their positions were that, rather than wait longer, probably to seek a direction from the developed nations, stakeholders must act now before they become endangered species.

Entitled “Driving Convergence Through Connectivity Infrastructure”, the event which also served as a platform for the organizers to honour and recognize the top 50 ICT companies in the sub-region provided participants, a unique opportunity to look at the enhanced opportunities for the convergence of media, regulation, content and digitalization under the framework of how to drive convergence through connectivity and infrastructures.

However, also at the programme it was a unanimous agreement by the various speakers that for West Africa to make progress in this age of ICT revolution, both government parastatals and the private sector must get ready to show commitment and sense of purpose by fusing the various existing regulators into one entity and make all the available infrastructures available for every operator to access. To them, time has come for Africa to take its own destiny in its hand and to spearhead this campaign in a most popular manner,  capable of facilitating action that can drive the desired growth in the ever dynamic and evolving ICT market.

In his welcome address, the Chief Executive Officer, Know-How Media & Editor of  IT Edge, Mr. Segun Oruame said the annual event was meant to bring professionals and major players in the West African sub-region together to brainstorm on the current issues in the ICT industry and proffer solutions on how best to make affected countries in the sub region  leverage on the available  and  key into the global trend.

In his opening remarks, the minister of   information and communications for state, Mr. Labaran Maku, represented by Engr. Lanre Ajayi, described the topic as a relevant issue that had been relegated to the background by the various stakeholders in the sub region.

Mr. Maku noted that though,  the availability of the modern technologies is the evidence that they have converged, he kicked against the existence of  different agencies regulating the various sectors of the industry in Nigeria, as against what obtains even in most African countries, where only one regulator runs them for better service delivery and efficiency.

Also in his presentation, entitled “Broadband, Convergence and Africa’s New Connectivity Infrastructures: ITAN’s Perspective”, the President of  Information Technology Association of Nigeria, Dr. Jimson Olufuye said the importance of convergence to Nigeria can not be over emphasized, especially now Nigeria is a member of the World Interconnectivity Alliance (WIA). Dr. Olufuye who expressed dissatisfaction with the recent drop of Nigeria in global rating of ICT  industry, however praised the country for overtaking South Africa, Egypt and Morocco that were  earlier rated higher above her.

Lending his voice to the contributions,  former deputy executive secretary, International Programmes, ECOWAS Secretariate and former Director ECOWAS Community Computer Centre, Dr. Sola Afolabi who spoke on the topic “Broadband, which Way Forward” stated that without a good government infrastructure, no meaningful progress can be made in the industry.

To him, only provision of a quality legal and physical infrastructure and development of manpower that will drive them will guarantee development in the sector.

Mr. Reuben Muoka who represented the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) commended the organizers of the programmes and assured the support and commitment of the commission to achieve digital convergence in the country. Cisco acquires.


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