Following the exponential growth in mobile internet connectivity, Emma Okonji writes on the need for increased access to personal computers among Nigerians to further boost internet access for national development
The number of mobile internet users in Nigeria has continued to rise following increased penetration of smartphones in Nigeria. It is on record that 90 per cent of those that have access to the internet in Nigeria do so via their mobile phones and other mobile devices like tablets. However, this cannot be said of personal computers (PCs) connectivity to the internet as few people have access to PCs.
According to the statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as at September 2015, mobile internet users were 97 million, a figure that slightly in February 2016.
The little increase of PC among Nigerians could perhaps be linked to the efforts of companies like Intel, Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft, Zinox, RLG, Asus, Tecno, through programmes like the PC adoption initiative, where they invest knowledge in Nigerians, and help sensitise the benefits of the PC in various sectors of the economy and how it can impact on creativity, productivity and utility. The programme, which has been successful this far has helped to enrich the lives of Nigerians by showcasing innovations in today’s newest PCs. Moving from one city to another, it creates platforms to support and nurture the development of innovators and businesses in the country.
However, in addition to PC adoption initiative, there is need for government to come up with measures that will enhance increased PC access among Nigerians to further drive national development.
Technology and economic growth
According to experts, there is a significant relationship between technology and the economic growth of a nation. In that regard, any country seeking expansion and innovation must not ignore technology and its tools like PCs, laptops, mobile phones, tablets, among others.
It appears that the Nigeria government has come into a better awareness of this fact going by a pronouncement made by the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, that about two million jobs would be created in the country through the Information and Communications Technology (ICT). He also called on key stakeholders in the ICT sector to come up ideas and proposals to partner with the country to achieve this goal in the sector because the government is willing to support ideas that provide jobs for unemployed youths in the country.
Like never before, the Nigerian economy is currently in the spotlight. With the continued fluctuation of oil prices, which led Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to drop to a record low in 2015, it does not appear as if 2016 would be any different. While the International Monetary Fund (IMF) attributed the drop in GDP to the oil sector, it also said that, “The non-oil sector accounts for 90 per cent of GDP, even when the oil sector plays a central role in the economy.”
Although the focus of the minister was on ICT when he made the announcement to the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) in Lagos, Nigeria needs to make a solid plan on how to integrate technology in nation-building.
Today, major economies in the world rely heavily on technology. In fact, it has reached a state that the ability of an economy to compete globally is tied to its ability to take advantage of technologies. A recent article published by the World Economic Forum collaborated this when it outlined five ways technology can help the economy in area of direct job creation, contribution to GDP growth, the emergence of new services and industries, workforce transformation and business innovation.
Without doubt, the federal government already recognises the benefits of technology and its tools like the computer and this is why it now seeks to give its full attention to develop it in the country. For Nigeria to expand its potential and grow across board, it needs to make PC available in Nigerian schools so that young people can explore their potential and create new technologies through this platform.
Today, PC is largely indispensable for creating innovative solutions to deal with today’s problems, from education to business to entertainment. Sadly, access to a PC is still more of a privilege than a necessity in Nigeria. In 2012, a joint survey by the Annual Socio-Economic Report: Access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) indicated that 95 per cent of Nigerians do not have access to computers. It also indicated that the most widely-used ICT devices were mobile phones and radios. There is therefore a need for government to begin to think of ways to boost PC access among Nigerian students and Nigerians that are out of school.
While one is quick to recognise and appreciate the efforts of the government fast track growth of technology, it is important to reiterate that any serious society that seeks to expand economically must at this time adopt the trend of equipping itself with PCs.
President of ATCON, Lanre Ajayi had suggested that government should subsidise the cost of PCs and make them available to all students in tertiary institutions, irrespective of their discipline. According to him, the initiative will boost research and learning in schools and it will increase access to PCs across Nigerian homes and schools.
As the government is ready to show commitment to enable technology in education even if the focus is on ICT, it is pertinent for the government to encourage organisations that are driving Nigerians’ PC adoption so that the increase in ICT skills and even entrepreneurship skills can indeed be actualised for a better Nigeria in today’s world that is driven by access to technology.