By Emma Okonji
Having missed out in the first, second and third industrial revolutions as a nation, the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), the umbrella body for information technology practitioners in Nigeria, has called on the federal government to implement policies that will enable Nigeria benefit from the fourth industrial revolution, which is about digital knowledge skills.
NCS made the call during its 15th International Conference, which held recently.
Participants at the virtual conference with the theme: Emerging Applications and Technologies for Industry 4.0, urged government to implement policies capable of enabling smart technologies for a quantum leap into the fourth industrial revolution.
The Director-General/CEO, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Aliyu Aziz, said: “It is important to remind us that we are at the threshold of a revolution that will fundamentally change the way we live, work and relate to one another and the revolution is happening at a very great speed. We have a lot of catching up to do here in Africa and Nigeria to be part of this change and shift.”
Aziz emphasised that the fourth industrial revolution 4.0 had presented challenging ideas about what it means to be human with new security concerns, major impacts on business and government. “The ensuing disruptions and shifts mean that we live in a time where we must employ and regulate these technologies to capture their benefits, exploit the opportunities it presents and also work harder to minimise the great risks it portends for our future,” Aziz said.
NCS President, Prof. Adesina Sodiya, spoke on the opportunities and benefits of complete transformation to industry 4.0, as well as the developmental implications and relevant of robotics, autonomous design, augmented reality, Internet of Things (IOT), Big Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligent (AI), among others.
Discussants and panelists drawn from within and outside the country, deliberated on opportunities of fourth industrial revolution and the need for government to develop policies that will enable Nigerians to benefit from the global opportunities.
The conference stressed the need for NCS to work with relevant government agencies including state and local governments to provide nationwide advocacy on implementation of emerging applications and current technologies in a bid to becoming one of top industrialised nations in the world.
The conference recognised data as the heart of forth industrial revolution, thus emphasised the effect of compromised data, which could affect factors of production and subsequently the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It therefore called on policy makers to render adequate support to relevant agencies towards implementing appropriate regulations in this regard.
Participants at the conference called on the federal government to classify internet access as a fundamental right of the citizens in other achieve the fourth industrial revolution. They also stressed on the need for industries to embrace smart technologies and leverage on cyber physical systems to provide services in critical sectors of the economy such as energy supply, health care, traffic management and predictive maintenance in manufacturing sector.
It was resolved that NCS must work with governments and other international organisations to combat insecurity through data exchange and information sharing.
In a communique released at the end of the conference, participants advised the federal government to strive and reform some existing regulatory frameworks that are no longer suitable for today’s digital economy Key government services such as Education, Commerce and Healthcare need to be completely digitalised as this will improve adoption of forth industrial revolution across sectors, the communique emphasised.
The conference recognised the role of financial institutions in achieving digital economy in the fourth industrial revolution. It therefore called on financial service operators to develop policies and programmes to support the manufacturing sector in the full implementation of the fourth industrial revolution.
Report: 70% of Nigerian Startups Experience Funding Challenges
Endeavor, the global high-impact entrepreneurship network has published a white paper report in partnership with Stears Data, entitled ‘Protecting Nigeria’s Entrepreneurial Future’.
The report outlined a number of proposals for Nigeria’s government policymakers and the business community, as local start-ups and scale ups navigate the repercussions of the global pandemic. These include financial and non-financial support programs, as well as investment opportunities to boost existing funding efforts.
According to the report, “The Nigerian technology startup ecosystem recorded over $700 million in Venture Capital (VC) funding in 2019. The report added that 84 per cent of startups has reported disruptions to their fundraising efforts, with 79 per cent of startups having less than a six month buffer and only 6 per cent has cash runway of 13-25 months.
“Alongside the drastic impact on the local funding environment, startups have experienced significant declines in sales and revenue, disruption of business operations as a result of lockdown and the implementation of strategic staffing decisions by companies. It is now known that Nigeria’s GDP contracted by 6.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2020.”
The white paper highlights rapid intervention from policymakers and cash flow support as the most urgent startup needs, closely followed by bespoke interventions, tailored to the high-growth, innovation business model. The need for startups, scale-ups and investors to maintain flexibility to operate in ways that promote the growth of the innovation ecosystem, was also addressed as a focal point.
Endeavor is a mission-oriented organisation that is leading the global movement for high-impact entrepreneurship. Endeavor selects, mentors and accelerates the best high-impact entrepreneurs growth and underserved ecosystems, supporting them to scale their companies and drive local and regional economic growth. Its growing local network of 10 high-growth, scale-up companies in Nigeria includes Paga, Kobo360, Carbon, Migo and Flutterwave.
Giving details of the white paper, Managing Director and CEO of Endeavor in Nigeria, Eloho Omame, said: “At Endeavor, we believe firmly that the innovation ecosystem, which is the transformational startups and scaleups, and their founders, who are building sustainable growth models in Nigeria, are fundamental to economic growth and the fabric of our future economy. The white paper shares our in-house perspective on proactive solutions that can be taken to minimise the negative impact on businesses and the economy and improve its prospects for the long term.”
Findings in the white paper were synthesised using real-time data collection from reports on startups in Nigeria and in other countries. An analysis of proposed mediations and policy measures by the Nigerian government mirrored against comparable responses in other countries worldwide was also done. Data was gathered from impact surveys measuring the severity of the pandemic on 171 startups and scaleups in Nigeria, at different stages of growth in a variety of sectors.
Chief Economist at Stears, Michael Famoroti, said: “The global crisis could already be the definitive economic event of this new decade, and we still have the opportunity to ensure the policy response is of a similar proportion. The white paper recommendations should be the start of a broader conversation about how to get the best out of Nigeria’s innovation ecosystem—naturally, that means figuring about the role that governments should play.”
Omame added, “It is paramount that the survival of our startups and scaleups during this economic downturn is prioritised with the implementation of solutions tailored to their specific needs. Our post-crisis recovery as a country depends on it. We hope to see a more united effort from government and policymakers that ultimately benefits startups and scaleups as our economy navigates the road to recovery.”