- Key performance areas: tech infrastructure, governance, people, impact
- Performance both humbling and challenging – Dambatta, NCC EVC
- Rwanda, 101st in world, leads in Africa’s NRI
By Ben Eguzozie.
Nigeria, a telecommunications powerhouse, with 82% of Africa’s telecom subscribers and 29% of the continent’s internet consumption, rating 11th globally in internet penetration and 7th in mobile phone usage, however ranks abysmally low on the latest global Network Readiness Index (NRI), a new report says.
The Network Readiness Index is a guiding metric that measures the role and impact of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) by a country. It aims to measure the degree of readiness of countries to exploit opportunities offered by the ICT. The NRI is an index published annually by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in collaboration with INSEAD, as part of their annual Global Information Report.
In the NRI ranking for 2022, Nigeria was ranked 109th out of 131 countries, a performance which Umar Garba Dambatta, the executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said was “both humbling and challenging”.
The 2022 NRI ranking explored the performances of 131 economies in four key categories: technology (infrastructure), governance, people and impact.
A University of Oxford’s 2022 NRI report indicates that the US is leading the world when it comes to affordable and accessible technology, with Netherlands, Singapore and Sweden in the second, third and fourth positions respectively.
In Africa, and the low-income country category, Rwanda leads posting marked improvements in regulation and legal framework for emerging technology, the oxford University report said.
Dambatta said, [the NCC] “as agents of social and economic transformation in our nation, prioritising network readiness is not only a strategic necessity, but a mandate.”
He recalled how in recent years, the Nigerian telecommunications industry had embarked on a remarkable growth trajectory, solidifying its position as an engine of economic growth. “The enhancement of digital access and the expansion of our networks have left an indelible impact on the lives of our citizens. While we celebrate these accomplishments, we are keenly aware that our dynamic society requires even higher connectivity, reliability, and accessibility standards. The surge in data utilisation, the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), and the emergence of cutting-edge technologies highlight the urgent need for ongoing network surveillance and expansion,” he conceded.
The NCC executive vice chairman concedes that for Nigeria to navigate the era of transformation, it must embrace innovation, make strategic investments, and cultivate a growth-friendly ecosystem.
While speaking during the “Emerging technology Forum Telecommunications industry – Contextualising the Network Readiness Index for the Nigerian tech industry,” Dambatta said the platform is a gateway to innovative and disruptive solutions that can positively transform the industry.
He said the Emerging Technology Forum acts as a beacon, directing towards the intersection of transformation and advancement. “This forum is where we bridge the divide between aspiration and achievement. Through spirited dialogues, collaborative exchanges, and the exploration of emerging technologies, we move closer to our vision of a fully interconnected, telecommunications-driven Nigeria,” he said.
He said the global data collected by the NRI team reveals that digital transformation is a global imperative in order to maximise the social and economic effects of the digital era. It can create new inequalities which can hinder the ability of younger generations to engage in the digital economy, but also remains the way to do more with less at all levels of income. Formal education is evolving, and metrics are important to support informed policymaking. This requires reskilling and upskilling opportunities to be available, accessible, and affordable in order to have more inclusive and sustainable economies and societies.