Nigeria is a fascinating country. It has gone through a great deal of political and economic turmoil, but it seems to always recover, no matter what is thrown at it. Some say that Nigeria has missed out on two industrial revolutions and, if it doesn’t shape up, it will miss out on a third. Specifically, it may iss out on an IT revolution. Nenadi Esther Usman, however, believes that she can help turn this around, and that she can make sure the country meets the ambitious goals it set itself for 2020.
Nenadi Esther Usman on the 2020 Nigeria Goals
Nigeria has a goal in mind for 2020, and Usman wants to help it achieve that. While there are still some oil reserves left, the reality is that military takeovers, civil wars, and ingrained corruption have squandered this away. In 1999, when the country started to transition into civilian rule, national priorities were redrawn and Nigeria wanted to stop being seen as a third-world country. It named Abuja as its capital, which was still under construction then, and it focused on sustainability. But, unfortunately, developers missed out on IT infrastructure.
Of course, “information poverty” is rife all over West Africa, including Nigeria. The first digital computer was received in 1963 but, in the past 50 years, it hasn’t grown all that much. Indeed, an IT policy was only adopted in Abuja in 2001, after they received a $28 million grant for the National IT Development Agency. Unfortunately, this agency has struggled to align itself with other national goals and is seen as wholly ineffective.
What Esther Nenadi Usman aims to do, is bring together economic development and digital expansion. In so doing, Nigeria could truly meet its potential. It will also enable it to develop and work towards its other targets. In 2001, for instance, half a million businesses existed in Nigeria across wholesale, retail, services, and manufacturing. Yet, very few are digitally modern.
Esther Nenadi Usman, however, is about looking at the positives. She wants to highlight the great strides Nigeria has already made in IT and help build on that. Some of the initiatives that the country has successfully implemented include:
The signing of the Regional African Satellite Communications Organization (RASCO), which was signed in 2001 in relation to multimedia telecommunications. In so doing, the government was able to better participate in IT, which Usman believes should become a driver to push other businesses to do the same.
The privatization of the Nigerian Telecom Company (NITEL) in 2006, which was, prior to that, a monopoly owned by the government. While privatization is not always a good thing, this initiative did ensure the private sector started to participate in communications, IT, and innovation.
The introduction of online banking systems. This has been driven by multinational corporations and banks, who want to provide the services that their customers, who are mainly expatriates from other countries into Nigeria.
B2C and B2B industries have started to focus on ecommerce delivery, quite successfully so. All equipment and IT content is imported at present, but it is better than nothing.