The Broadband 2018 Coalition Group has expressed deep concern over Nigeria’s poor ranking on the latest Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Development Index (IDI).
The report was published in the annual “Measuring the Information Society Report (MISR)” by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) where the country was rated 143rd globally, a significant downward shift from its 137th position in 2016. On the African index, Nigeria was placed 15th behind countries like Mauritius, South Africa, Kenya, Gabon, Ghana, Zimbabwe and even Cote d’Ivoire.
The ICT Development Index is a composite measure that combines 11 indicators into one benchmark index to monitor and compare ICT developments between 176 countries across the world.
The three-dimension frameworks used to measure the IDI, were Access, Use of ICT and Skills Capabilities.
According to the report, Access, which was the first measuring framework, has to do with the level of ICT readiness which includes five infrastructure and access indicators: fixed-telephone subscriptions, mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions, international Internet bandwidth per Internet user, households with a computer, and households with Internet access.
The second framework, which is about Use of ICT, includes three intensity and usage indicators: individuals using the Internet, fixed broadband subscriptions, and mobile-broadband subscriptions, while the third framework, which was on Skills Capabilities, looked at the importance attached to ICTs, which include three proxy indicators: mean years of schooling, gross secondary enrolment, and gross tertiary enrolment.
Expressing shock at the development, the coalition convener and technology expert, Danjuma Yusuf pointed that Nigeria’s technology landscape needs urgent intervention given its sharp stagnation and decline in recent years and tasked the federal and state governments and other relevant regulatory agencies to quickly focus on strategies that would increase the country’s global competitiveness in ICT.
According to Yusuf, Nigeria has become an object of ridicule on global ICT rankings, and overtaken by countries with much lower Gross Domestic Product. He mentioned that with direct connections to five submarine cables, worth $7 billion of Africa’s $20 billion submarine cable investments, Nigeria has no excuse for not leading the African index ahead of South Africa with four submarine cables, as well as Zimbabwe and Gabon with two cables each. He therefore urged the federal government to declare a state of emergency in Nigeria’s ICT sector.
Yusuf cited as example, Kenya, which also launched its Broadband Policy in 2013, like Nigeria, but is currently leading Africa in internet penetration with over 30 million people having 67 per cent internet access according to the Jumia Business Intelligence and GSMA ‘White Paper 2017: Trends from the Kenyan Smartphone and eCommerce Industry’.
He stressed that proactive regulation and a government-funded National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI) project, which rolled out hundreds of thousands kilometers of fiber optic cables across Kenya’s 47 counties. According to him, Kenya’s leadership initiatives have ensured the country remains one of Africa’s leading recipients of foreign direct investment and the fastest advancing country in ICT on the continent.
Yusuf urged speedy implementation of the five-year Broadband Plan in Nigeria, stating that broadband has played an outsized role in transforming societies and economic opportunities across the world, facilitating education and knowledge dissemination, enabling trade and commerce and contributing to growing entrepreneurship across the world.