By Olabisi Olaleye
The information and communication technology (ICT) industry in 2017 was a year of shocking developments and landmark achievements. The year started with the sudden death of the IT amazon, Mrs. Florence Seriki, CEO of Omatek Computers. Major investors of Etisalat suddenly pulled out without warning and the company was nearly liquidated when the consortium of banks demanded for its loans of $1.2 billion to be repaid.
The banks, at a point, wanted to take over but the intervention of Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian Communications Commission saved the day. Etisalat Nigeria has been rebranded 9Mobile, though it is still scouting for investors to stay afloat.
Also, there was mass retrenchment from most ICT companies in the country due to the state of the economy, with recession bogging down firms, including MTN Nigeria.
The year also saw the slow march towards the implementation of the National Broadband Plan, with a target of actualising 30 per cent at the end of 2018, but experts say that Nigeria is barely at 3 per cent due to a wide range of factors, while other countries have moved on to other things.
The industry’s contribution to GDP moved from less than 0.5 per cent in 2001 to 6 per cent in 2012 to 10 per cent between 2013 and 2014 , 11 per cent in 2015, and currently stands at 9.8 per cent.
Prof. Umar Danbatta, the executive vice chairman of the NCC, in addition to his eight-point agenda when he came on board in August 2015, inaugurated the Year of the Consumers and put faces to it, which has never happened in the history of the telecoms sector.
Meanwhile, there was a continuous drop in mobile phone subscriptions in the country, but the NCC boss said what was responsible was that some subscribers were migrating from 3G to 4G/LTE networks.
In 2017, several mobile phones were launched, including the Phantom 8, iPhone 8, iPhone X, the Infinix series and Itel series.
Minister of communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu’s attempt to raise the bill for the ICT university was thrashed by the Federal Executive Council for yet-undisclosed reasons. The TinCan Island Port also declared that its current record revenue and various seizures were aided by technology.
The Customs area controller, Comptroller Yussuf Bashar, said, “The command generated N262.3 billion between January and November 2017, as against the sum of N233.5 billion generated in the corresponding period of 2016. A comparative analysis of the figures indicates a difference of N28.9 billion a significant increase from 2016.”