So far, 2022 is shaping up to be another interesting year, not unlike its predecessor. This year has welcomed another new variant of the Coronavirus, which scientists have named IHU. Although it has yet to be spotted in other countries apart from France, if previous variants are any indication, I do not think the world is in for any major surprise. However, I urge everyone to continue practising good personal hygiene and wearing face masks, especially in public spaces.
That said, as a continuation of the key ICT issues of 2021, which was first published last week, I will be sharing the final excerpts culled from our top content for 2021. For this second part of the series, key issues ranging from the rollout of Nigeria’s Central Bank Digital Currency, e-Naira, to the disgraceful state of security in the country, permit me to mention the mass exodus of the youth population to “greener pastures.”
Unemployment, technology and the gig economy
The “Japa” wave is still very much underway as Nigerian youths relentlessly pursue opportunities to travel outside the country. This is not a surprise considering that the high unemployment rate remains a deeply disturbing issue.
While the government claims to be hard at work to tackle unemployment, the gig economy has the potential to complement efforts to increase formal employment and provide another avenue to meaningful engagement with the formal economy. Thanks to technology, it is now possible not to mention easy for a Nigerian to work for companies abroad without leaving the country.
In the August 8, 2021 issue of the ICT Clinic column, I highlighted some ways that I believe anyone can earn an income online.
Unnecessary sanction threats by CPN
Home to leading startups, Nigeria has produced one of Africa’s few unicorn companies. Yet, in mid-September, the Federal Government of Nigeria announced that all individuals and corporate organisations who were into any form of Information Technology practice must register with the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria, or risk getting sanctioned.
In their infinite wisdom, our lawmakers believe that such action can stamp out quackery, imposition, and some other malpractices in the information technology sector.
Nigeria’s technology startup scene has witnessed tremendous strides in recent years, no thanks to the government. Curiously a good number of the guys spearheading this revolution did not start with a degree in ICT-related fields.
Here’s what I wrote on the issue: “What is interesting is that a good number of these guys don’t even have a technology background. Like every smart innovator, they look within their community to solve challenges that are common. Do we then ignore the value they are creating because CPN deems them unprofessional?” I think the answer is a no-brainer!
A tale of insecurities and woes
Nigeria is plagued with an unprecedented wave of different but overlapping security crises- from extremism to banditry and kidnapping, Nigeria seems to be a country where the lawless and criminal elements carry out their nefarious activities with impunity. Added to this plethora of problems is the ongoing food crisis rocking the entire nation.
In the October 10 issue of the ICT Clinic column, titled ‘Tackling Nigeria’s security challenge with technology’, I referred to the embarrassing invasion of the Nigerian Defence Academy. I commented thus:
“Like other sovereign states in the world, Nigeria has security (military, paramilitary and intelligence) services that are tasked to ensure national security both internally and externally. Yet, these agencies are not only struggling but the country’s security architecture has arguably been hijacked in many parts of the country.
It is alarming to learn how terrorists brazenly invaded the Defence Academy to kill and abduct two majors in their base. If such fate can befall supposed veterans of war, what chance does an average civilian stand?”
Rather than wring its figurative hands in defeat, I reiterated that the government should collaborate with players in the tech space and create an enabling environment where innovators can thrive.
CBDC and the launch of e-Naira
News about the e-Naira dominated the media making the subject one of the hottest and trendiest during the latter part of 2021. Given its nature as a digital currency, In the Sunday, October 31 write up in the ICT Clinic column, I analysed the subject, unravelling the seeming complexities of e-Naira in ways that the average Nigerian can comprehend.
Related pieces on the ICT Clinic column covered my exploration of CBN’s choice of partner for the e-Naira project as well as the unpatriotic selection of a domain name that does not reflect the ‘Nigerianess’ of the e-Naira.
5G auction: The need for transparency
There is certainly a lot to be said for 5G and in developed countries, dare I say their output when it comes to 5G technology is worth the hype. In Nigeria, 5G is apparently the best thing since sliced bread. This is quite puzzling when we consider the underperformance of the supposed 4G network in the country, even in key centres.
Be that as it may, in the Sunday, December 26, 2021 piece on the ICT Clinic column, I shared a brief anecdote of the sub-par internet service I experienced a while back.
I wrote: “I must clearly state this for the avoidance of doubt, the majority of Nigerians are yet to have a taste of real 4G, so it is unfortunate that for whatever reason we are hastily jumping into 5G that would require an entirely different ecosystem and also quite complicated to deploy in the face of insecurity.”
Having explored salient facts about 5G technology and its benefits, I went on to give a commentary on the 5G licence bidding between Nigeria’s most powerful telco companies. You may want to re-read the piece to know my thoughts on the event and outcome.
To wrap up this two-part series featuring our top picks for 2021, we wish to thank all our esteemed readers. As always, we remain focused on our efforts to contribute to the growth and general adoption of technology, the digital economy, and startups. It goes without saying that we will keep pushing for favourable policies that will boost innovation and the social and economic well being of fellow Nigerians.
Once again, we bid you welcome to 2022. As a glass-half-full kind of person, I am hopeful that regardless of what the future holds, we are resilient and determined enough to bring the best out of this year.
ICT Clinic by CFA is published weekly in the Sunday Punch