Information Communication Technology (ICT) and telecommunications industry stakeholders have said that the formation of a policy framework that promotes digital transformation, with modern regulations, infrastructure and digital education are necessities in Nigeria’s fight towards participating and benefiting in the fourth industrial revolution.
The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is the fourth major industrial era since the initial industrial revolution of the 18th century. It is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres, collectively referred to as cyber-physical systems.
Paul Babatunde Ruwase, president, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said that Nigeria must narrow the gap between technological potentials and the required policy framework needed to benefit in the global revolution.
Ruwase said; “it has become more pertinent than ever for us as a nation to focus on exploring innovative approaches to harness the benefits of technological advancement in this ever-changing world.”
According to him, recent technological advances such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Big data, Augmented reality, Internet of Things, cloud computing, blockchain technologis and the likes, have the potential to fundamentally redefine the economy, and this presents ample opportunities that needs to be explored for the present and future generations.
“In order to catch up with the fast-growing trends in ICT therefore, the country needs to address necessary policy challenges in three key areas: E-commerce, data flows and new technologies,” Ruwase said.
Uwem Uwemakpan, former entrepreneurship manager for Tony Elumelu Foundation said it is unfortunate that Nigeria is currently falling behind on the fourth industrial revolution.
“The fourth industrial revolution is all about connectivity using technologies like the cloud, IoT etc. However, we are more focused on resource control which is reminiscent of the first industrial revolution. We have to catch up otherwise Africa as a whole will remain behind.”
On what the regulator is doing to ensure that Nigeria reaps the benefits of the fourth revolution, Ismail Adedigba, deputy director, consumer affairs, Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) said that the commission is taken various steps to ensure that Nigeria participates and Nigerians are sensitized on the benefits of the revolution.
“This fourth industrial revolution also comes with a lot of risks, especially in terms of cybersecurity and that is why NCC is all out to educate consumers on benefits and risks of the digital revolution.”
Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman, NCC, who was represented at the LCCI ICTEL expo by Ismail Adedigba said, “the world in 50 to 100 years will depend on how we deploy these new technologies. We are already witnessing it in Nigeria with machine to human, human to machine and machine to machine communications already becoming the order of the day in financial services, health, agriculture and other sectors. All these rely on robust telecommunication infrastructure and pervasive broadband network. Conscious of this reality, the NCC has pro-actively embarked on licensing of infrastructure companies to complement existing infrastructure of mobile networks.
“We currently encourage satellite operators to invest in Nigeria and we work closely with all stakeholders and create an enabling environment for all telecom stakeholders to thrive,” he said.
Stakeholders say that developing digital skills for the Nigerian youths in order to be able to respond to the challenge posed by the digitisation of the labour market, education and other spheres of life needs to also be seen as a joint responsibility of employers, employees, educators and policy makers both at the local and national level.
ICT industry stakeholders say Nigeria must therefore design and implement an agenda that promotes a digital transformation, with modern regulations, infrastructure and digital education.