In the 2020 Digital Quality of Life (DQL) report, which benchmarked internet affordability, internet quality, electronic infrastructure, electronic government, and electronic security in 85 countries, Nigeria, the supposed giant of Africa, ranks 5th behind South Africa, Tunisia, Morroco, and Kenya, and 81st in the world.
Our journey to digital inclusion at the current position seems very farfetched, especially when placed side by side with countries that we should be competing with. A few more revealing statistics will perhaps provide a better perspective to the looming danger if ICT is not deployed into the nation’s education and socio-economic systems.
According to the Global Connectivity Index (GCI), “the government of Saudi Arabia established Saudi Vision 2030 to develop a thriving digital society, digital government, and digital economy, and a future characterized by innovation. Its ICT strategy for 2019–2023 aims to improve the telecommunications market, drive more local digital content, and grow a vibrant ICT ecosystem and emerging technology cluster. Saudi Arabia has achieved 72% 4G coverage and 58% fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) coverage, with average download speeds of 45 Mbps. It spends about 2% of its GDP annually on ICT.”
The Government of Saudi is said to be gradually diversifying its economy away from a heavy dependence on oil and gas, towards a digital economy; with the service sector now contributing about 25% of national GDP.
Compared also, Thailand ICT Policy Framework of 2011–2020 has yielded tremendous result for the country. “78% of the population was covered by 4G, with the mobile broadband connection rate reaching 132% of the population. Thailand’s use of cloud computing has tripled in the last three years, and the Thailand 4.0 plan is further driving digital transformation” (GCI, 2020).
Whereas in Nigeria, the deployment of the 5G technology has been heavily contested with several conspiracies around the use of the technology, Japanese companies are committed to investing more than US$45 billion in 5G deployment, the intention of which was ensuring 5G coverage for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Although the COVID-19 pandemic led to the postponement of the Olympics, Japan still intends to push ahead with its 5G plans.
“Japan started deploying robots to deliver products to consumers in 2019. COVID-19 and its aftermath could see 5G enabling many new robot delivery use cases, and many countries are well-placed for this to happen. In addition, governments have incentives to encourage innovative delivery models that reduce the spread of the virus and enable a heavily distributed workforce. During the pandemic, Japanese start-ups also developed robots for medical use and contactless deliveries” (GCI, 2020).
Back in Africa, governments are developing new ways to ensure continuous education of their population as a result of the lockdown occasioned by the covid-19 pandemic; “In Egypt, the Ministry of Education and Technical Education (MoETE) implemented distance learning and assessments, extended access to the Egyptian Knowledge Bank (EKB) to students, and provided content by grade level and subject, which is accessible by phone or computer. Its site features education content through multimedia, including textbooks and videos. It also launched a digital platform that enabled communication between 22 million students and teachers in 55,000 schools in a manner that was similar to being at school. Even students who are not in the country can use the electronic platform and digital library” (GCI, 2020).
These statistics are necessary to explain what we can do with SING Nigeria’s Code-3 plan. Stakeholders in the education sector must begin to think in the direction of developing local technology and using same to reach out to the millions of our out-of-school population.
The future is Code-3, let’s have this discussion.