Ojobo: Technology Innovation Will Boost Digital Economies


Emma Okonji

The Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mr. Tony Ojobo, has said that technological innovation is the bedrock of digital economies.

Ojobo, who made the disclosure in Abuja during the general meeting of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), said technology and innovation are powered by the science of growth, hence they stand the test of time.

Ojobo told the audience that technology would always set the pace for human civilisation, boosts development and creates wealth for those who adopt it.

According to him, investments in technology and innovations is the reason why the top four most capitalised companies in the world are where they are today, and listed them to include Microsoft, Apple, Google and Facebook.
Ojobo rolled out statistics to justify his presentation. Narrowing it down to Nigeria, he said telephone subscription stood at 154.5 million as at December 2016 while teledensity is now 110.38 per cent.

Internet subscription was 92 million as at December 2016, while broadband penetration is 21 per cent as estimated by ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission. Broadband target by 2018 as estimated in the National Broadband Plan is 30 per cent. Africa has an internet penetration of 28.7 per cent of 3.7billion global internet users. Nigeria is at about 48 over cent penetration and about 92 million internet users. Facebook users stand at 16 million and Facebook is now worth over $348 billion. It overtook Exxon Mobil as the 4th most capitalised company in the world.

According to him, there has been a forecast that by 2020, 20.8 billion devices would be connected and collating data. Digital technology is promoting astonishing interaction among citizens and between citizens and the state.
“ More political debates are enabled thereby boosting the expression of civil liberties. Politicians increasingly deploy social media to reach their constituents. Only recently the Lagos State government launched a portal to enhance interaction between it and the citizens,” he said.

On the application of digital technology to expansion of democracy, he said the Arab Spring, particularly the events at Tahrir Square in Egypt readily comes to bear. The Nigerian elections of 2015 gave an insight to what technology can do. The Referendum in the United Kingdom to decide the country’s fate in the EU and the recently concluded American presidential elections were all shaped by the use of social media networks enabled by the internet.

Ojobo explained how digital economy and opportunities for business and economic growth come about. He said the internet has accounted for over 10 per cent GDP over a period of 15 years in the G8 countries (China, Brazil, India, Sweden and South Korea), according to Mckinsey global institute.

Practically all brands, Coca-Cola, Toyota, Cadbury, Exxon Mobil, Adidas, Amazon, Jumia, Konga retail stores are online. Human brands such presidents, footballers, and other sport icons, Jumia, Konga among others, conduct online sales in millions. Black Friday sales turnover in 2015 conducted by online stores in Nigeria was in excess of N600 million. The availability of ATMs, POS and other online communication platforms have redefined modern life.

Ojobo listed how the digital economy has aided the detection of ‘ghost workers’ in the civil service which had drained public funds for years. This, he said, was made possible by ICTs, adding that because of ICTs, there is hardly any banking transaction that has taken place in Nigeria in the last 15 years that cannot be tracked. This enabled detection of illicit funds and transparency in the public sector. These have been a check at least on some people’s tendencies for graft and other financial crimes.

“The introduction of technology in banking and e- commerce has put to a very large extent, control over financial crimes. For instance, the introduction of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) has made banking a lot easier,” Ojobo said.