Information and Communications Technology (ICT) growth index for Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META) has ranked Nigeria low behind Kenya, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirate (UAE).
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the META region holds greater developmental keys, especially for the adoption of new technologies.
Speaking to journalists, IDC Group vice president and regional managing director META, Jyoti Lalchandani, said in countries where emerging technologies have been put on the national mandate, they lead in innovation and becoming more mature markets.
Lalchandani noted that IDC is seeing a major shift in the operating model of digital transformation, where organisations are increasingly looking towards areas like cloud and analytics, to change the landscape in terms of their core investments.
He revealed that while there have been some significant changes for development in Saudi Arabia, Kenya, and South Africa, growth in Nigeria has been slow, especially towards the adoption of new technologies.
Lalchandani said the slow growth seen in Nigeria’s IT market, is posing a serious challenge to the West African IT ecosystem expansion.
This challenge, which has been linked to some emerging issues in the country, including oil price volatility in the global market, and current political tension in Nigeria, are said to be affecting investors’ plans for the regional market.
Besides, he noted that the government’s non-diversification move especially towards ICT is projected to have also had a negative impact on the region’s growth, as such diverting investors’ focus from the market.
He noted that the slow growth may persist owning to the too much dependence on oil, and insufficient diversification plans, saying the oil and gas sector, which is currently unstable, is putting so much pressure on the lean revenue.
He said the IDC saw significant slowdown in the areas of consumer devices, and SMEs business spending, adding that Personal Computer, tablet, mobile phone markets have gone down significantly in the last one year owing to economic pressures and volatility.
According to him, large enterprises are also feeling the impact, there has been an increased pressure, especially in the currency exchange rate, which was at a time N250 to $1, but increased to about N500 to $1 but gradually coming down, now around N350 to $1. All these affects IT departments and organisation, “they don’t want unpredictability in prices. Information technology is still seen as a cost factor, it is still seen as a CAPEX investment in Nigeria and this is putting pressure on their lean revenues.”
On the other hand, Lalchandani said the UAE is one of the more mature markets when it comes to ICT spend, and this is because the government has incorporated a lot of what the IDC calls ‘accelerating technologies.’
“The interesting dynamic about the UAE is that a lot of these shifts that we see in terms of transformation are being led by the public sector, compared to other countries where it is the private sector that leads digital transformation programmes and projects. Here, the public sector is actually taking the lead.”
According to him, the country is the first in the world to set up a Ministry of Artificial Intelligence, and appointed a minister to the department, and the Dubai Government plans to become completely paperless by 2021, by placing all its transactions on block chain.”Our research indicates that countries (within META) where the public sector has taken the lead in driving innovation by adopting accelerator technologies (block chain, AI, IOT, next-gen security, AR/VR, robotics and drones), are generally more mature.
“In such cases, the private sector aligns itself with government direction, thereby increasing their own investments to keep pace. We have seen this also influence larger industry players (example IBM, Oracle) to expand investments by establishing innovation hubs and other related investments.”Investment in analytics is changing from organisations looking to just leverage their data to gain a competitive advantage, to organisations looking into ways to monetise the data and create new revenue streams for both the public and private sectors, he pointed out.