How Collaborative Efforts Can Power Africa’s Digital Transformation

Vanguard Lagos Prince Osuagwu, Laju Iren and Emmanuel Elebeke
Displayed with permission from allAfrica.com

Telecom industry growth in Nigeria, and indeed Africa will depend on collaborative efforts of the industry.

Although this is a call that stakeholders in the Information and Communication Technology, ICT industry are becoming more intentional about, the history of Telecommunications in Nigeria is built on collaboration.

When President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration ushered in the Telecomms revolution in the country nearly two decades, it involved many hands on deck from different sides of the table. There were less than 350, 000 active phone lines in 1999, but by early 2007, more than 34 million lines connecting Nigerians; Public-Private Partnership achieved in a short time what Nigeria Telecommunications Limited, NITEL, could not do since establishment in 1985. As at May 2016, there were 206 million connected lines in the country.

It seems however, that the case for Public-Private Partnership has been made. What is beginning to gain ground in the technology ecosystem is partnership among private organisations. Even operators have begun to support the idea that sharing infrastructure and ideas creates a faster route to their successes than having pockets of infrastructure sitting in silos.

Network backbone infrastructure providers like Huawei and others who ordinarily would think of more benefits in dealing with individual networks are also leading the call for networks and ideas to shake hands, saying it will also empower the innovation of other industries.

For example, Huawei Marine in partnership with 20 carriers to build 8 new submarine cables systems and upgrade 2 existing systems in Africa to provide better international data access for 15 countries. To date, Huawei Marine is currently deploying the 6000 km repeatered South Atlantic Inter Link (SAIL) system between Cameroon and Brazil enabling connectivity for a population of 198 million.

The secret to broadband penetration always lies in collaboration. From now until 2021, the Mobile Broadband (MBB) data traffic in Africa is expected to increase by at least 26-fold, mainly driven by applications such as video, IoT and by connecting the unconnected population.

At the Innovative MBB Solutions stand, Huawei shared the latest insights and showcases the end-to-end MBB solutions, innovative technologies and new products which will allow operators to build ubiquitous mobile broadband networks offering the best user experience.

President of Huawei’s Southern Africa region, Mr. Li Peng, opined that leveraging a broad portfolio of ICT infrastructure products, Huawei’s cloud Services Solutions provide the reliability, agility, and price-performance needed to deliver cutting-edge applications and services quickly, safely, and securely.

According to Peng: « Huawei’s IoT solutions which are currently being launched by many carriers in Africa will drive the digital transformation of carrier’s broadband services by making the world of connected things a reality. Huawei’s Smart Home solution features a flexible architecture and access independence. The Smart Home solution incorporates a smart home gateway to connect various smart home appliances, and an IoT connection management platform is required to enable various applications.

African ICT professionals also advocate synergy

Collaboration was also the theme song at the African Heads of ICT Professionals summit held in Abuja recently. In his opening speech, the Chairman of African Information and Communications Technologies Alliance (AFICTA), Dr. Jimson Olufuye, said: « The capability is there for our citizens to make Africa the number one outsourcing centre in the world. The Philippines as at this moment is the largest ICT outsourcing nation in the world. Africa has the potentials to surpass Philippines because we have proficiency in English, French, and Portuguese and we are well suited to grab that opportunity. »

« For me, it is a question of scaling up the capacity we already have. This initiative should be sustained. Let us cooperate and collaborate together and by so doing, we will achieve much more. »

He said that AFICTA is pained by the high of unemployment in the continent and as a result had set a target of creating 1 million jobs between 2016 and 2020 through ICT and called for reduction in the cost of doing business in Africa, particularly Nigeria.

« With corporate cooperation with stakeholders from Egypt to South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, we are in the first phase of pooling our resources together with funding from donor organisation with existing organisation to scale up these youth. By the year 2020, we will create 1 million jobs.

The Secretary General of African Telecommunication Union, ATU, Abdulkareem Sulaiman said the event offered Africa the opportunity to continue interaction and collaborate as IT professionals on current trends in the industry.

« Sulaiman, who lamented the poor and high cost of

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