There is no denying the fact that the launch of the global system for mobile communication (GSM) by ex-president Olusegun remains one of Nigeria’s democratic dividends to citizens.
Although the history of the ICT sector dates back to the colonial, independence and military era where devices like telephones, fax machines, etc were exclusive items for the elites, it wasn’t until 1999 when president Obasanjo deregulated the sector, with licences granted to private firms to float mobile telecoms firms that the majority of Nigerians began to gain maximally from the sector.
In fact, the launch of GSM in 2001 demystified the act of telephony, hitherto seen as an elitist tool, as it gave even the below the average income-earning Nigerian access to a phone, and revolutionised the way businesses are conducted in the country.
Between 2001 till date, Nigeria has recorded over 162 million active subscribers, with a tele-density of 116 per cent, while the industry contributes over $70 billion to GDP, with thousands of jobs created along the value chain
Over the years, poor infrastructure has remained the major challenge hampering the growth of the telecoms sector. At the root of the problem is the inability of the government to adequately fund the sector, thus leaving private sector operators with the herculean task of reinvesting their profits in building infrastructure and expanding networks to cover all nooks and crannies of the country.
At present, Nigeria battles the challenge of data harmonisation from its various regulatory agencies; and it is a crisis not helped by the absence of requisite telecoms infrastructure to harmonise data collected by NCC on SIM card registration; Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) on driver’s licence; and banks on Biometric Verification Number (BVN), among others. Poor infrastructure has also impacted negatively by slowing down the pace of digital transformation in the country.
At 59, Nigeria is still backward in technology development, when viewed against what developed countries have achieved through technology.
Systems are automated both in the public and private sectors and technology is used to tame corruption, reduce fraud and to fight insurgencies that threaten the unity of their collective existence, but such is not the case with Nigeria, as the country struggles to catch-up in the area of technology development.
Amid these challanges, some companies have proved to be masters in their buainess: innovation and are investing massively to move the sector forward.
Daily Sun embarked on this special report to bring such companies to the fore.
In the part one of this report, THE SUN focused on Globacom, Medallion Communications Limited, Focus Group and Tecno Mobile, a brand of Transsion Holdings.