Ahead of the expected revolution brought about by the rollout of fifth-generation (5G) networks in Nigeria, industry stakeholders have highlighted the need for infrastructure upgrades and new investments.
Stakeholders speaking as a panellist at the ICT Growth Conference organised by Nigerian Information Technology Reporters (NITRA) highlighted the need for an urgent review of the state of Nigeria’s infrastructure to enable the country to grow from some of the developed countries in the world.
The panelists from public and private sector agencies, on the theme “Creating a Digital Ecosystem in Nigeria: Barriers, Benefits”, agreed that infrastructure provision remains Nigeria’s surest path to building a strong digital economy.
In a panel moderated by TechEconomy.ng editor Peter Oluka, the panelists agreed that efforts to build Nigeria’s digital economy will not yield promising results unless there is a sustained commitment on the part of the government to prioritize infrastructure.
According to Seyi Olarenwaju, CFO of Medallion Data Centres, infrastructure will play a vital role in enhancing digital systems in Nigeria’s digital ecosystem, noting that “without infrastructure, there is nothing.”
With governance now replaced by campaigning in preparation for the 2023 election, the incoming government should focus on identifying specific infrastructure and fixing it, he said. Olanrewaju expressed hope that if power is prioritized in this regard, many things will follow.
Kelechukwu Nsofor, carrier-neutral Tier III data center Rack Centre, says from a data center provider’s perspective, electricity is the critical infrastructure that drives the data center business, describing it as the firewire of basically any data center.
According to Nsofor, “The critical infrastructure we depend on is electricity. Power is the fire wire of any data center. Unfortunately, if you go back to 1999, because we started the current democracy in the country, as far as electricity is concerned , what is the installed capacity and where is our power today in 20 years?
“At one point, we were generating 1,600 megawatts, and today, it’s still hovering around 3,000 megawatts. As an economy with over 200 million people, where are we going? So if you look at the population growth rate and Try to compare that to our growth in power and you’ll see a complete disconnect.”
He said Nigeria has a wealth of policy and expertise, but worries that this has yet to translate into results for the country’s power sector.
“Now, linking it to the rack center as well as the data center space, we’ve been generating power for the past nine years of operation. We’re now in full control of generating that power. If we’re looking to expand, we’re also looking to Continue to generate electricity or a more cost-effective way.
“We want the government to stop talking about infrastructure like electricity infrastructure and start showing serious commitment by playing a major role in the provision of electricity infrastructure,” he said.
In his contribution to the presentation, Babalola Olalekan of Phase 3 Telecoms acknowledged that the government had done enough to provide infrastructure, but said there was a need for greater synergy between the government and service providers.
“A document was released last year called the Strategic Roadmap/Action Plan: Four-Year Plan 2021-2024. The key performance indicators published in the document divide infrastructure into categories such as soft, services and hardware.
“When you look at hardware infrastructure, we’re talking about how far we’ve come in terms of deploying hardware infrastructure like fiber optic cables. We’re talking about active equipment and so on. But the government has taken some steps, especially at the federal level. , by cutting right-of-way fees across the Commonwealth.
“Another area we’re leveraging is our concession scheme called a public-private partnership (PPP), and I want operators and players to come in and take advantage of our existing infrastructure and opportunities.
“Another thing I would encourage us to do is cooperation between players. All of us can only fight for a specific position or location. We can experience firsthand how to collaborate, leverage each other and supply as a single network.
“So, I think the government has done enough in terms of policy. We have a responsibility to use it, to put more pressure on the government, to be more proactive in our collaborative efforts and to take advantage of what is being offered to us through the government,” Austrian said. Lalekan said.
Going into the 2023 election, he said, the most important concern is security, saying that operators still have a lot of work to do on the ground, and they are finding it difficult to restore the network in the shortest possible time. “So, no matter what the government can do to Make sure our roads, our villages, our towns are safe and we’re going to have a good election for sure.”
In his intervention, Galaxy Backbone’s Chidi Okpala acknowledged that the government understands the importance of infrastructure in developing the country’s digital economy, noting that one of the things that the current government prioritizes is infrastructure.
“Have they done all the things they expect as a government? Maybe not. But have they done some effort to close the infrastructure gap? The answer is yes. But there is a lot of learning, a lot of training, trying to Build this awareness to fully understand how this affects everyone’s daily life.