By CHIMA AKWAJA, Lagos –
Nigeria is to experience huge technology transfer of over $4 billion from India as the governments of both countries rekindle long- standing relationships at the third Indo-Africa ICT Expo which ended yesterday in Lagos with over 3,000 delegates from across Africa and India witnessing the inauguration of the technology event.
Already having strong presence in Africa, India, through the conference is seeking stronger ties with Nigeria in particular, and has therefore offered its assistance in all areas of technology.
Along those lines, the Nigerian minister of communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu, who led the ministers from India, Ghana and top officials from Ethiopia, Rwanda and other African countries to inaugurate the conference, in his keynote address at the event expressed the country’s readiness to partner with India in all possible areas to achieve a digital economy Nigeria.
Shittu, who allayed fears of stakeholders in the ICT industry about the Indians coming to hijack the industry, said the coming of the Indians was sequel to discussions he had with the Indian business community in Geneva early this year, where they promised to come and invest $4 billion in the Nigerian IT industry.
As part of India’s commitment to Nigeria, Shittu said India was also financing a solar-based rural electrification project that would cover 1000 rural areas in Nigeria. The minister however, used the opportunity to invite Indians to invest in the key Nigerian ICT projects, which include the establishment of ICT university and ICT development bank to cater to the specific financing needs of the ICT industry in Africa’s biggest market.
Earlier in his opening address at the conference, Sanjay Nayak, co-chairman of India’s Telecom Equipment & Services Export Promotion Council (TEPC), said India remains the ideal partner for Africa as it shares the same vision and mission for technology growth. According to him, India has developed quality technologies well-crafted to meet the needs of countries in the African continent, and which they can leverage on at competitive price.
India, Nayak said, has the lowest telecom tariff rates in the world as a result of its cutting edge technologies. “We have end-to-end solutions, which are well suited for African needs,” he said. India’s minister of communications, Manoj Sinha, said the third edition of the Indo-Africa ICT Expo in Lagos has special significance, not only for India and Nigeria, but also for the entire Africa, adding that the success of the first two editions held in Kenya gave the organisers the confidence to shift the focus to West Africa.
“I strongly believe that the vast experience gained by India in setting up of ICT infrastructure can be leveraged by the governments as well as the private business enterprises in Africa. To explore synergies on the ground in ICTs, more than 50 ICT companies from India are participating in this ICT Expo, ” he said.
Citing the key capabilities of Indian companies and what they can offer Nigeria, the minister said that Indian companies have developed the engineering capabilities and experience with smart innovations. “They have the ability to train employees at scale; innovative business models at low cost. This makes them well-positioned to support the booming African ICT sector,” he said.
According to the Indian minister, India and Africa were having similar demographic and ICT usage profile and should therefore work together to achieve common goal of establishing digital economy in respective countries. “We are fully committed to share our ICT experiences, expertise and software skills with other countries in the developing world. India is also willing to explore opportunities of financing the emerging opportunities,” he said.