Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Abdur Raheem Adebayo Shittu has debunked the allegation that the invitation of the Indian ICT community to come and participate in Nigeria’s ecosystem is an invitation into neo-colonialism of the ICT sector in Nigeria by the Asian ICT power house.
He spoke against the backdrop of Nigeria ICTs stakeholders’ agitation that the open arm extended to Indian ICT stakeholders was invariably going to lead to the cream off of the goodies of the Nigerian ICTs market by the Indian business community. The Nigerian stakeholders have equally expressed concern that the Nigeria market could become dumping ground for Indian ICT devices.
The Minister spoke at the Indo-Africa conference in the presence of some other Africa ministers; Deputy Minister of Communications, Ghana Vincent Sowah Odotel, and State Minister of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Communication and information Technology, Getachew Negash Tekla. The audience also included the Rwanda Ambassador to Nigeria, Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria and business and thought leaders from Kenya, Nigeria and other participating countries.
According to him, instead of fretting at the invitation to the Indian Business community, Nigeria ICTs community should applaud the huge opportunities that would be attracted to the local market by the participation of their India counterparts.
Shittu said that Nigeria stands to benefit from $4 billion technology transfer from India as the governments of both countries revitalize the long standing relationships at the third Indo-Africa ICT Expo which opened September 6 in Lagos with over 3,000 delegates from Africa and India.
He said that the strong delegation from India was already talking to their counterparts in Nigeria on how to open windows of opportunity for the growth of the sector in Nigeria by offering assistance in all areas of technology. He expressed Nigeria’s readiness to partner with India in all possible areas to achieve a digital economy for Nigeria.
Dispelling the fear that the Indians are coming to hijack the industry, he said the coming of the Indians was sequel to discussions he had with the Indian business community in Geneva early this year, where they promised to come and invest $4 billion in the Nigerian IT industry.
As part of India’s commitment to Nigeria, Shittu said India is also financing a solar-based rural telecoms Mast that would cover 1000 rural areas in Nigeria.
Co-chairman of India’s Telecom Equipment & Services Export Promotion Council (TEPC), said India remains the ideal partner for Africa as it shares the same vision and mission for technology growth. According to him, India has developed quality technologies that is cost effective and suited for countries in the Africa.
According to him, India has the lowest telecom tariff rates in the world as a result of its cutting edge technologies. “We have end-to-end solutions, which are well suited for African needs” he said.
India’s Minister of Communications, Manoj Sinha, said the third edition of the Indo-Africa ICT Expo in Lagos has special significance, not only for India and Nigeria, but also for the entire Africa, adding that
the success of the first two editions held in Kenya gave the organisers the confidence to shift the focus to West Africa.
“I strongly believe that the vast experience gained by India in setting up of ICT infrastructure can be leveraged by the governments as well as the private business enterprises in Africa. To explore synergies on the ground in ICTs, more than 50 ICT companies from India are participating in this ICT Expo” he said.
Citing the key capabilities of Indian companies and what they can offer Nigeria, the Minister said that India companies have developed the engineering capabilities and experience with smart innovations. “They have the ability to train employees at scale; innovative business models at low cost. This makes them well-positioned to support the booming African ICT sector” he said.
He noted that India and Africa are having similar demographic and ICT usage profile and should therefore work together to achieve common goal of establishing digital economy in respective countries.
“We are fully committed to share our ICT experiences, expertise and software skills with other countries in the developing world. India is also willing to explore opportunities of financing the emerging opportunities”.
The organisers, TEPC, is working in conjunction with the National Association of Software and Service Companies, (NASSCOM), which is the premier trade body and the chamber of commerce of the IT-BPM industries in India.
The TEPC stated that the vision of a knowledge based society “is built on an edifice where IT and Telecommunications merge,” adding that “rapid
technological convergence has already established a symbiotic relationship between the development strategies of IT and telecommunications. IT flourishes on the telecom-network and in turn permits modern day telecommunications to use sophisticated IT-software.”
The Council says as Africa is among the fastest growing markets worldwide, improving macroeconomic indicators, conducive business environment, larger, younger and more affluent population, rising middle class – all are strong indicators of not only a source of capital but also of job creation, skills development, technology transfer, infrastructure development, responsible governance and most of all –sustained growth that eventually will lead to transformation of African economies!”
Nigeria’s ICT was represented by the presence of Director General of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Aliyu Aziz, Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Satellite Communications Limited (NIGCOMSAT), Abimbola Alale, former executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications
Commission (NCC) who is chairman of Openmedia Group, Ernest Ndukwe, President of the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, Chairman of Association of Licensed Telephone Operators (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, and President of the Information Technology Association of Nigeria (ITAN), Tayo Adeniyi, as well as chairman of the IT/Telecom Trading Group of the National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, (NACCIMA) , Charles Okeke, and President of the Computers and Allied Products Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN), Ahmed Ojikutu.