ICT Minister Says Poor Infrastructure Hindering E-Commerce Growth
Nigeria’s Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson, has emphasised the need for more investments in infrastructure in the telecommunication sector to boost e-commerce, insisting that the sector had the ability to create jobs.
At the Bayelsa State Investment Forum on Friday, Mrs Johnson told the participants that the ICT sector was the second largest contributor in the services sector, contributing about 17 per cent to GDP.
But she pointed out that a look at its contribution to the growth of the financial and insurance sector, education sector and public administration amongst others would show it was contributing more than the 17 per cent.
At the moment, lack of infrastructure has limited access to the internet in Nigeria, 36 per cent of the over 150 million population having access to the internet.
“Nigeria is still lagging behind when you compare the internet penetration to that of some other African countries.
“Internet connection is an obstacle to doing business on the internet. If I don’t have internet connection or the connectivity is slow, I will not bother trying to buy my goods online,” she said.
Mrs Johnson said that one of her ministry’s priorities was to “connect Nigeria with fast fibre optic wireless infrastructure to ensure that every single Nigerian has access to the internet at a speed that is reasonable”.
She further stressed that the growing number of local companies on the internet needed the necessary infrastructure to thrive, pointing out that Nigeria is doing well in product and services.
The e-commerce economy, she said, would grow faster when the entire country is connected.
“We need to look at how we develop human capital to support this business. We are building out infrastructure that is worth billions of dollars and we need to have local capacity to maintain the infrastructure. We need more software developers, we need more software engineers, we need more network engineers and we need many more people in the ICT sector,” Mrs Johnson said.
She further said that the government had put in place policies that would help investment in the sector thrive.
Nigeria, through its National Broadband Strategy, is looking to increase internet penetration, covering 30 per cent of the country by 2018, with 80 per cent of the population having access to the internet.