The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, has urged Nigeria’s private sector to invest in information and communication technology to bridge the infrastructure deficit in the country.
The minister, at the Transform Africa Summit, 2017, in Kigali, Rwanda, said the Smart Africa Initiative would be difficult to achieve if the huge infrastructure deficit in Nigeria and Africa was not addressed.
The focus of the summit which is developing “smart cities” and aimed at leveraging technologies to increase the efficiency of African cities is presently supported by 11 African countries with others expected to join.
Rwanda currently spearheading this initiative has done some developmental projects like providing WiFi services in public areas and public transport vehicles, as well as cashless payment systems in public transport.
Onyeama emphasized that Public Private Partnership was necessary for driving ICT development in Nigeria.
“As it was said there is no one technology that is necessarily going to overcome some of these challenges of infrastructures.
“What it just requires, and I think this is what came out clearly, is the partnership between government and the private sector and the academia.
“And together, these three can begin to put in place all the building blocks to have smart cities including in Nigeria,” he said.
The minister said PPP was the reason Nigeria succeeded in the communication sector and that the country in the past 20 years, was able to engage the private sector in providing phone lines to about 100 million people as against the 400, 000 telephone lines that were there to serve 150 million people.
“You saw how the coming together of the political will and the private sector creating the platform for the private sector to coming in into the sector
Executive Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Dambatta who was also at the summit said that infrastructural deficit hinders the development of ICT. “As a regulator, I experience some challenges of how we can drive the smart initiative. One major challenge is that of infrastructure.
“Nigeria has about a population of 180 million, equals to the population of all the countries in the sub-Saharan Africa.
“Without adequate electricity supply, Africa would remain a dark continent,” Dambatta said.