THE pun used in the title of this piece is intended. The Nigerian economy for its size and potential is grotesquely uncompetitive. Mouthing shibboleths about “Africa’s largest economy” represents delusions of grandeur unless it goes with deepening the competitiveness of the ecosystem. This is extremely important now that we have signed up to the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA).
Furthermore, with mounting foreign denominated debts as well as excruciating trade debts and imbalance, we now have to “export or perish”! To sustain a real export policy, we have to be competitive. To be competitive, we must modernise our structures and develop an all encompassing digital economy. Any initiative in this area is long overdue and is welcome.
A few years ago, Lagos State blazed the trail by very sensibly allowing Main One Cable the telco infrastructure development company free access to Right – Of – Way for their fibre optics in the Yaba area of Lagos Mainland in the Lagos Metropolis.
It has turned out to be a phenomenal success and Yaba has surmounted Nigeria’s other infrastructure deficits to become Africa’s Hi-tech powerhouse. Lagos has also seen the emergence of five out of the nine billion dollars’ worth tech firms to have emerged from Africa. This shows the efficacy of positive thinking leading to beneficial policies!
It is therefore important to give plaudits to the announcement by the State Government of Osun that fees for the right of way to develop fibre optics will be waved. The government also intends to domesticate the Nigeria start up bill. Every state government should follow suit. The country needs it as it will make our economy competitive.
The digital economy is now the decisive thrust. With bigger broadband width, we can now attract investments in all areas of endeavour which will create sustainability and create jobs.
There is no need to be cynical about sensible policy thrusts because of a contrived partisan divide. For example, a call by a dissenting listener to a leading radio station in Oshogbo on Wednesday angrily asked “what has this policy got to do with my aged mother in the village?” Actually, it will be beneficial. Wider broad bands will allow telemedicine to take off in a big way. Paramedics can now be directed though professionals using telemedicine as to how to engage in procedures, access to quality healthcare will be broadened and this from the experience of other countries will crucially affect maternal healthcare and help to cut down on infant and maternal mortality.
The next administrations at every level must put the digital economy at the epicenter. There is no alternative.