Business, legal and Information and Communication Technology, ICT experts across Nigeria and India say the ICT industry has the potential of being Nigeria’s largest revenue earner, noting that the development of the sector will lead to the transformation of other sectors.
Speaking at the 2015 Indian/Nigerian Business Forum, INBF, organised by the law firm, Perchstone & Graeys, in collaboration with the Federation of India Chamber of Commerce and Industry, FICCI Gerald Ilukwe, former CEO/managing director at Galaxy Backbone, an ICT provider company for the Federal Government of Nigeria, said the Nigerian ICT industry was fast changing, and thus a new kind of partnership was required beyond the export of offshore products and services to localised investments.
Ilukwe, who discussed the theme, ‘ICT: Attaining Global Competitive Advantage,’ explained that a number of factors could enhance and see the development of ICT in Nigeria and this includes, Nigeria’s large local market, the innovation in financial services, as well as increasing investor activity, local and foreign, others such as the absence of skilled manpower and best practices, low technology adoption in organisations and insufficient enabling legislation, could be a clog in the wheel of this progress.
He said, “Local demand will increasingly be met by local supply, as multinationals like Microsoft, IBM and SAP are no longer the ‘Go-To’ companies here. The market and its needs have expanded beyond these ones.”
Buttressing this point, Bismark Rewane, CEO, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, noted that recent challenges in the oil and gas sector underscored the need for Nigeria to diversify its economy, with ICT serving as the driver of this process.
“The industry between 2012 and 2014 created over 12 million job opportunities, while attracting over $6 billion within this period. In 2016/17, Nigeria will experience a high investment in technical knowhow in ICT, education, healthcare and agriculture; all of which will be thriving industries in the next couple of years with the support of multinational interests,” he said.
Dinesh Madhavan, director, healthcare services, HCG Enterprises, who also addressed the challenges and benefits of ICT from a healthcare perspective, informed the audience that ICT could be a great enabler for Nigeria’s healthcare sector, if advanced technology was adequately utilised in the sector.
Such examples, according to him, would include, Cloud-based Virtual Health Records, on-the-go information on immunisation, Tele-medicine (i.e. Tele-radiology, Tele-pathology, Tele-ICU, Tele-nursing, Tele-pharmacy etc.)
He said: “Electronic Health Records, which enables easy access of data to both patient and doctor, Drug Alerts, Emergency Care – M-Health, if implemented will see shorter turn-around times at the labs and hospitals. Telemedicine would also provide access to better healthcare quality in rural areas. T
“There will be electronic media used to impart awareness for various ailments, vaccinations and app/internet-based doctor appointments will see patients connecting to some of the best doctors around the world, no matter what part of the world they find themselves.”
The industry experts also revealed at the two-day event that the existing 250,000 IT and telecom professionals in Nigeria were nowhere near meeting the actual demands of the industry.