Broadband, as a technological tool, has been described as a veritable infrastructure to help redefine Nigeria’s global competitiveness in the culture and tourism sector of the world economy. The Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Umar Danbatta, said that the culture and tourism industry could be a money spinner for the Nigeria’s ailing economy with the right deployment of broadband infrastructure to harness the potentials in the sector.
Danbatta made this assertion in a keynote lecture on the theme: ‘ICT and Finance as catalyst for tourism and culture’, at 5th anniversary of Waka About Africa magazine conference. The event was held at the NECA House, Alausa, Ikeja on Wednesday, June 7, 2017. The sector is comprised of hospitality business, travel management, arts and artefacts, films and movies as well as music, books, cultural festivals, museums and heritage sites among others.
Represented by Head Public Relations of the Commission, Reuben Muoka, the EVC recalled the miserable statistics which placed Nigeria as being ranked 131 out of 141 countries with tourism competitive index in 2015. “With this level of our competitiveness, it might be difficult to truly measure the catalytic roles that ICT plays for the development and growth of culture and tourism. We can therefore, highlight how ICT can improve the culture and tourism potentials so that as government refocuses to make this industry to become very active, it will find ICT as an enabler,” he said.
Dwelling on the giant leaps that ICTs could fast-track with the right mix in the culture and tourism sector, he stressed that “ICT is a catalyst in all fields of human endeavor, and tourism is one. We must also add that ICT can actually facilitate diversification of the economy on one hand, on the other, when the economy is not as diversified, ICT still plays its catalytic role.” He said that the bourgeoning culture and tourism sector of the nation’s economy could be transformed into a money spinner if the broadband facility is effectively deployed and integrated in its management.
He typified the benefits of ICTs in the industries to the fortune booster it manifested in the marriage between ICTs and Nollywood. According to him, “Fortune.com has rated Nigeria’s biggest tourism and cultural export, Nollywood, as worth US$3 Billion by 2015. This is an industry whose growth is accelerated by ICT. With broadband availability, distribution of movies across the globe has become very easy. It is possible to see new movies produced in Nigeria being watched from all parts of the world. As many movies are woven around stories derived from the culture and traditions of the people, this has seen Nigeria’s culture, and in deed, tourism potentials being made available to the wider world.”
He said that ICTs has become an inseparable tool for enhancing the wellness of all aspect of living and business. He added that the Commission will continue to engage the diverse segments of the society on the appropriate utilisation of ICTs to enhance productivity. Among others, he noted that NCC had previously made some ICT capacity building interventions for stakeholders in the movie sub-sector of the industry. “As a way of promoting this potential, the Nigerian Communications Commission, has through its ICT training school, Digital Bridge Institute, DBI, some years ago sponsored a number of Nollywood actors and producers to Georgia Tech University in Atlanta, USA, in a collaboration that sought how best to apply latest ICT in movie production, storage and encryption to minimize or eradicate copyright infringements that has robbed the industry of huge resources,” he said.
Danbatta said it is also imperative for popular cultural festivals and sites that attract tourism to leverage on ICTs to promote patronage. According to him, if the managers of such tourist sites and cultural festivals could properly harness their potentials with integration of ICT, they will improve participation and economic potentials.
While he single out the annual Calabar Cultural Carnival for the effective integration of ICTs for its marketing, he decried the low integration of ICTs in the management of the culture and tourism potentials in Nigeria. “The annual Osun Oshogbo festival, and others like Gelede, Eyo, Ojude Oba, New yam, Yankari Game reserve, Obudu ranch, Argungu Fishing festival are some of the tourists attractions where ICTs have not been effectively deployed to market their potentials,” he said. The EVC noted that because the Calabar Cultural Carnival had leveraged on ICTs in showcasing itself to the global audience, it has continued to evolve and attract both local and international visitors each year.
He said that with the strides in broadband deployments in Nigeria, the stakeholders in the cultural artefacts could use ICTs to project their works to the global community. “The cyberspace has become an avenue for marketing local contents,” and that “a nation that projects their cultural heritage and tourism potentials with ICT inevitably and strategically improves its cultural potentials.”
To further underscore the relevance of ICTs, he reiterated the World Bank believe that “connectivity whether by Internet or mobile phones, are changing the ways we live, communicate and develop. With empirical research, the World Bank has concluded that with 10 per cent increase in high speed Internet connections, economic growth increases by 1.3 per cent. High-speed Internet connections, said differently, means broadband connectivity. The concept of Information Communications Technology for Development, ICT4D, being promoted by the United Nations, has evolved out of the recognition of the importance of ICT as a tool for development, and seeks to bridge the digital divide between technologically endowed, and less endowed locations of the world. That is to say that ICT has become, not only a catalyst but provides the basis for measurement of levels of societal developments.”
The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Lai Mohammed, who was represented by a senior official of the National Theatre said that ICTs has a crucial role to play in transforming the fortunes of the culture and tourism sector of the nation’s economy. He said that the Ministry will continue to encourage such collaboration with stakeholders.
A founding member of Nollywood, Paul said that ICTs paved the way for the boom now experienced in the movie industry despite the initial snub by the banks in the evolving era. He said that Nollywood holds the sizzling attractions to the financial institutions to the opportunities provided by the ICTs leverages.
The General Manager, Public Relations, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said that ICTs is an enabler for the operations in the airline industry. He called for further improvement in the utilisation of ICTs to enhance the business in the aviation industry.