• Preparing Nigeria for Internet of Things


    IOTTHE Internet of Things (IoT) is opening up a world of real opportunities and rapidly transforming communities, cities and the daily lives of people worldwide. Today, the IoT encompasses more than 14 billion things connected to the Internet.
    The IoT suggests a world where all humans and objects are connected via WiFi, constantly sending data back and forth.
    Already, reports have it that consulting companies are taking a close look at IoT and are predicting a rosy future for the technology with forecasts of compound yealy growth rates (CAGR) of between 30 and 33 per cent over the next four years.
    The IoT is seen to have the potential to be much larger than the existing Internet. According to Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group, it recently predicted that some 25 billion ‘things’ will be connected to the Internet by 2015, and 50 billion by 2020.
    Already, the globe has been projected to realise about $19 trillion through the application of IoE, about $500 billion is expected to be available to Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and other sub-Saharan African countries in another 10 years.
    Presenting a study, last year at Cisco Connect, in SunCity, South Africa, Cisco Vice President for Africa, David Meads, said that $19 trillion in IoE value is at stake in the private ($14.4 trillion) and public ($4.6 trillion) sectors over the next decade across the globe, but about $500 billion is open for Nigeria, South Africa and other sub-Saharan African countries to realise.
    As such, the need to tap this huge opportunity formed part of Nigeria’s participation at the 35th GITEX Technology Week in Dubai, United Arab Emirates last month, where African countries were challenged on their preparedness for the IoT revolution in order not to be left behind.
    Indeed for Nigeria to benefit immensely from this revolution, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the government agency responsible for Information Technology (IT) policy implementation and development, which led the Nigerian delegation to this year’s GITEX, tasked
    delegates on IoT.
    The GITEX technology exhibition, which is the leading Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, was held at the Dubai World Trade Centre, and attracted more than 130,000 visitors from over 150 countries of the world, including Nigeria.
    With the theme: ‘The Internet Future of Everything’, highlight was on how the IoT technology, which was described as disruptive technology with the capacity to disrupt exiting technologies and pave the way for the technology can be more beneficial to mankind.
    NITDA’s strategy
    Established to implement the National IT policy for Nigeria, NITDA has been involved in developing local talents and exposing them to the global world, where they could compete favourably.
    It is for this reason that the agency decided to take part of the National IT policy implementation to the state and local government levels, to enable it position ICT as a driver of national development in the country.
    Director, Corporate Strategy at NITDA, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, explained that NITDA would continue to boost ICT development in the country in such a way that it would attract foreign investors.
    According to Olatunji, “within Nigeria, NITDA is driving ICT development in states, and we are currently engaging six states, on IT policy implementation, with plans to extend it to the local government level. The truth is that most of the states have different development agenda, which ranges from agriculture to human capital development and tourism and culture, so the initiative is to drive the states to see how they could use IT to achieve their priority areas.
    “NITDA is in collaboration with IT professional bodies in Nigeria to further drive our vision for the country, and we are also taking the drive offshore, hence our participation in GITEX in 2013, 2014, and 2015, Olatunji said.
    Currently IT contributes about 11 per cent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and NITDA said it would increase it to between 17 and 20 per cent by the first quarter in 2016, through its continued support for IT development in Nigeria.
    At the exhibition, NITDA’s Director –General, Peter Jack, called on foreign and local investors to invest in technology solutions developed by Nigerian startups, insisting that such investment, will not only boost national development, but will also guarantee fast return on investment.
    Jack, who spoke at the ‘Nigeria Day’ of the GITEX forum, encouraged international investors to embrace investment opportunities in Nigeria in the area of IT. He explained that IT contributions to Nigeria GDP has doubled in the last five years from 4.5 per cent to over 10 per cent, with signs of contributing more to the economy.
    Speaking at a panel session on smart city development, Jack told international audience that NITDA has a mandate to develop ICT Park in Nigeria, and that as part of the mandate; it has engaged multi stakeholder partnerships to drive the initiative.
    Nigeria’s participation at GITEX 2015
    NITDA led the Nigerian delegation to this year’s GITEX technology exhibition, where latest technologies on IoT were discussed and displayed. The delegation also included sponsored technology startups that made Nigeria proud by exhibiting at the Nigerian Pavilion, locally developed apps that could support developments in medicine, real estate, e-commerce, among others.
    The startups were able to showcase locally developed software applications from Nigeria that could serve local and international needs of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as big and corporate organisations.
    Special boots were provided for the startups inside the Nigeria Pavilion at GITEX, which attracted foreign investors, who made enquiries on business opportunities.
    Aside technology startups, NITDA also accommodated already established Nigerian companies in the Nigerian Pavilion, who also used the occasion to showcase the Nigerian brand.
    Challenge on African nations
    In order to tap fast into the future technology, African governments were urged to embrace IoT, which is currently causing some forms of disruption in the global technology world.
    The call for African countries to embrace IoT by the forum became necessary, following technology innovations that are driving business efficiency and profitability and are invariably disrupting the old ways of doing businesses globally.
    Vice President of Alibaba Group, Sicheng Yu, who spoke on, ‘the Future of Innovation and the Converging Forces of Change,’ said: “The world is currently experiencing a number of converging forces that will both rewrite the rules of business and redefine the world of innovation. Each of these driving forces has the potential of blindsiding us if we do not spend time crafting stories about the world to come.”
    He was of the view that the technology of IoT would in the future, help cars to communicate with other cars on the roads and help in decongesting traffic caused by vehicular movements.
    He said more innovations were on the way, and urged African countries to key into the innovation, by promoting big data, cloud computing and the Internet.
    “We are already experiencing increase in the demand for big data services across the globe but big data cannot work effectively, without cloud computing that is largely driven by the Internet”, Yu said.
    He promised that Alibaba Group would continue to use its platform to make system and applications work faster for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), in order to create business efficiency that will drive down cost of business.
    The Chief Technology Officer of Accenture, Paul Daugherty, who spoke on ‘Transformation in the Digital Business Era,’ said “Global companies are realigning and strategically transforming into digital businesses in order to achieve internal efficiencies, external growth and return to the role of disrupters.”
    He highlighted the need for digital transformation across globe and explained that the globe needed three mega trends that would shape businesses. The trends according to him would include connected world, data connectivity as well as intelligence and automation.
    Wooing foreign investors
    At the ‘Nigerian Day’ of the GITEX forum, NITDA used the occasion to woo foreign investors into investing in the country’s IT sector, telecommunication sector, power sector, solid mineral sector, and agricultural sector. Other sectors include Oil and Gas, transport, manufacturing, textile, and garment and leather sectors, among others.
    Unveiling business opportunities in Nigeria, Jack, told foreign investors who gathered at the Nigerian Pavilion, that business opportunities abound in Nigeria and encouraged them to take bold steps to invest in a country whose environ is conducive for business growth and continuity.
    According to him, “Nigeria is the top recipient of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa, with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate that averaged more than five per cent over the last 10 years. This followed the deliberate attempt by government to liberalise the business environment to accommodate the private sector as the engine of growth, while government remains the enabler. This is in addition to an attempt to diversify the Nigerian economy to accommodate critical non-oil sectors, with FDI as the major source.”
    He explained that the primary legislation governing investments in Nigeria is the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) Act number 16 of 1995, with other supportive laws and policies that jointly ensure a suitable conducive business environment, enhanced periodic reforms of the economy by the federal government.
    Director, Overseas and Domestic Operations Department at NIPC, Ladi Katagum, welcomed the investors to the Nigeria Pavilion, while presenting them with business opportunities.
    “We provide the framework for investment in Nigeria, being the gateway of investment to Nigeria. We are also promoting targeted investment among Nigerian companies and helping them to identify investors in different sectors, before introducing them to Nigeria,” Katagum said.
    According to her, “one of the areas that government is boosting investment in Nigeria is by developing and putting the right infrastructure in place. Nigeria is still ranked very low in investment rating and government is doing everything possible to boost the rating.”
    Chief Executive Officer of Teledom Group, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, told the foreign investors of the need to invest in Nigeria, and assured them on quick return on investment, owing to the conducive business environment established by the Nigerian government.
    Encouraing technology startups
    Among the 14 sponsored technology startups to this year’s GITEX forum in Dubai, is Hotbay, whose Founder and CEO, is Owolabi Olatunji.
    Hotbay is an online platform developed by Nigerians in Nigeria that is focused on Real Estate. It helps real estate professionals, landlords, landladies, mortgage institutions to find and share information about properties and property related services. It leverages on technology to provide real estate information for those that need the information. People could access the information through their phones, tablets and laptops. Information like available property for sale and rent are uploaded on the website of Hotbay, and interested persons can access the information. The photos of the property and their locations and prices are also uploaded. Neighborhood information on the properties are also uploaded to enable those seeking new properties to get information about the neighborhood from those already living there.
    The application was developed from scratch but an engineering team that has come together as a team, since 2012.
    “Our goal and aspirations are to be at the top of the real estate business in Nigeria and to have several listings on our site for people to access and make their choices, through informed information they get from our site. So we are using the internet to grow the real estate brand in Nigeria and to expand the real estate businesses of Nigerians,” Olatunji said.
    “We were at GITEX 2015 to showcase our home grown technology application on real estate to the world and to extend the real estate business beyond the shores of Nigeria, he said.
    Another team, is the Cribpark team, led by Pius Oludare as CEO/Founder, while Olajide Bello is the Business Development Manager of the team, numbering five.
    Cribpark.com.ng is a an online housing market that connects buyers and sellers of building materials and furniture. It is an online platform that helps people get the best prices of building materials in the market and the locations of the market where the materials could be found. All building materials and their cost are listed on the site and it provides information on them to enable the buyer get the best price as well, as the location they could find them.
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