Nigeria: Path to Innovative Development

The Federal Republic of Nigeria is the most densely populated state in Africa with over 165 million people, as of 2013 [5]. The total area of ​​the state is 923 768 km², making it 14th-largest country on the continent by area. The country borders with Benin on the west, with Niger on the north, with Chad in the north-east, and with Cameroon in the east. The capital of Nigeria is Abuja.

In 2014, Nigeria was ranked the 147th country in the Doing Business ranking. [2] Unfortunately, compared to 2013, the ranking dropped by 9 positions from the previous 138th place [2].

Nigeria is the largest African oil producer and the twelfth largest in the world, producing high-value, low-sulfur content crude oil [3].

Nigerian economy is heavily dependent on its oil sector, which accounts for more than 95 percent of export earnings and about 40 percent of national revenue [3].

Main industrial products

Crude oil, coal, tin, rubber products, wood, hides and skins, textiles, construction materials, food products, footwear, chemicals, fertilizer, printing, ceramics

Most important export goods

Petroleum products and LNG (2012)

Most important import goods

Manufactured goods, Machinery & transport equipment and chemicals (2012)

Most important export countries

The US, India, Netherlands, and Spain (2012)

Most important import countries

China, the US, India, and the UK (2012)

Main natural resources

Natural gas, petroleum, tin, iron ore, coal, limestone, niobium, lead, zinc, and arable land

Source: [4]

Nigerian satellite Nigeria Sat-1 was launched in September 2003 from Plesetsk cosmodrome, Russia, to participate in the international Earth monitoring system — “Disaster Monitoring Constellation” [1].

Nigeria became the third African country to have its own satellite, after South Africa and Algeria [1].

The world famous “Nigerian Letters” represent a fraud scheme, which establishes a connection with a potential fraud victim via email and gets money by promising large sums. Despite the fact that other nations are also involved in this criminal business, this kind of cheating was initially widely used in Nigeria.

There are nearly 56 million Internet users in Nigeria or 32.9% of the country’s population, as of 2012 [8].

The country was ranked the 8th in the world by the number of Internet users and the 128th by the level of Internet penetration, as of 2012 [8].

In May 2013, the number of mobile phone users amounted to 114 million [5]. Pursuant to this indicator, the country is ranked the 9th in the world. [5] There are 69 phones per 100 people [5].

On providing low-cost or free Internet access to people in rural areas, the companies can capture the huge market of mobile phone users and offer their products and services.

There are 5 357 500 Facebook users in the country [7] (as of March 2013). Nigeria is the third African country by the number of users of this social network, after Egypt and South Africa [7]. There are over 50 million Facebook users on the African continent [7].

African governments are slow in introducing laws that would provide guidelines on the development and use of ICT infrastructure (Information and communications technology) [9]. For example, ICT in Nigeria is based on the National Mass Communication Policy of 1990, the National Telecommunications Policy of 2000, and the National Policy for Information Technology of 2000 [9].

The Government of Nigeria has substantially liberalized Nigeria’s telecommunications sector since the early 2000s [3]. According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the total number of telephone lines (mobile and landline) in Nigeria increased from 93.5 million (66.7% teledensity) in September 2011 to 107.4 million (76.7% teledensity) in September 2012 [3]. The Telecommunications Act of 2001 authorized the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to issue licenses to existing and prospective service providers. Nigeria’s state-owned telecommunications operator, Nigerian Telecommunications Limited’s (NITEL) mobile subsidiary, MTEL, and four private companies, MTN, Airtel, Globacom, and Etisalat, have mobile licenses [3]. The NCC implemented a unified licensing regime in 2006 that permits telecommunications companies to offer landline, wireless, and data services [3].

The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector received a boost in 2010 and 2011 with the installation in Lagos of three broad-band cables from Glo-One, MainOne, and the MTN-led West African Cable System (WACS). The Glo-One, MainOne, and WACS cables increased Nigeria’s broad-band capacity to 9.9 terabits and the availability of competitively priced broad-band is expected to increase significantly in the near term [3].

The Federal Government of Nigeria plans to increase investment in the information communication telecommunication (ICT) sector from $25 billion to $50 billion in the coming years by attracting $25 billion of foreign direct investment in the private ICT sector [6].

This was stated by the Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson during the official launch of the “Broadband Campaign” with the theme “Connected Nigeria, Connected Nigerians” in Lagos [6].

She noted that the Ministry and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) will do everything possible to attract the international business community to invest in Nigerian ICT sector.

The investment will boost broadband penetration in Nigeria, which currently stands at 6-7%.

An important task is to implement the National Broadband Plan 2013-2018, so in 2013, the Broadband Council was created.

The government and other relevant stakeholders have been working to solve the technical, financial, and environmental obstacles to accelerate broadband roll-out across the country.

Currently, ICT sector contributes 8% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and will continue its growth if these problems are solved.

Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson noted that the landmark memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the Lagos State government and the operators led to the reduction of  the cost of fibre optic deployment by 85%. Faster infrastructure development reduces this cost.

Solving the tasks set before the government is one of the top priorities, since increasing penetration of information technology in people’s lives and the country’s economy will help the state set foot on the path of innovative development. Informed introduction and use of new technology improves economic efficiency, reduces the dependency on exporting raw materials, increases the level of education, reduces the financial and time costs for public authorities, private companies, and entrepreneurs, helps people avoid paper laden processes, makes the state more responsive and attentive to the needs of people. When innovations are used properly, these mechanisms of happiness work great and bear good fruit.


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