Who are those supporting the Information Communications and Telecommunications Expo being organised by the LCCI?
In terms of support from the government, we have the Lagos State Government, the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and the Federal Ministry of Communications. Then we have some departments like the Nigerian Communications Commission, the Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency and the Internet Society Nigeria, among those who have endorsed the programme.
Is there any dedicated technology funding from the government for this project?
It is not government-funded. We get our sponsorships in three areas. We have exhibitors who pay for the space they are using. We have the people who are supporting by sponsoring one programme or the other. We have some people who are saying that they are going to sponsor a particular programme or make presentations. The above examples are the kind of support we are getting, and not funding by government or individuals.
What measures has the LCCI put in place to ensure the sustainability of this programme? Moreover, what impact do you see it having in the next five years?
The LCCI has been in existence for more than 100 years; so what that implies is that we have sustained our programmes for more than 100 years. Two, it has been promoting trade over the years, and the flagship of LCCI programmes is what we call Lagos International Trade Fair. This year’s trade fair will be 30th. Therefore, if the LCCI can continuously organise an event, which is the largest in the whole of West Africa for 30 years, the possibility is there for it to continue to organise it. In addition, in terms of impact on the people, you see we are providing a platform where the stakeholders will come in and they will bring ideas. So, automatically, the impact cannot be underestimated.
Internet penetration in Nigeria is a very huge challenge and you are looking at using the LCCI ICTEL to spur start-ups. Don’t you think government has a role to play in deepening broadband penetration in the country?
Government will continue to have a role to play in broadband penetration. But at the same time, I feel that by and large, what the government needs to do is to provide an enabling environment. Once you have that enabling environment, you will see many private investors coming in to invest in that area of the business because all over the world, you will find out that government does not run telecommunications, but the private sector does. So, once the enabling environment is there, automatically there will be investments.
Are there plans to use the ICTEL Expo to empower start-ups that may want to take to e-commerce business?
If you look at our theme for this year, it is ‘Mobility, technology and the Nigerian economy’. When you are talking about mobility, you will find out that most of the businesses now are using mobile smartphones and others. So, that is one of the things we are talking about. The economy has changed a lot. How will you use technology to make the economy mobile? And if you look at the size of business, we are talking about Alibaba playing a major role now. If you look at the volume of business going through the mobile technology, it is huge now. That is why this year, we are emphasising the issue of mobility, the way people even do business, and then we are saying, ‘How will mobile technology impact on the Nigerian economy?’
So many Nigerians are considering going into agriculture. How does ICTEL intend to drive this campaign, if at all it has this in its agenda?
If we really want to feed ourselves, we cannot depend on the subsistence farming method. Technology will drive agriculture with the way things are going. We need to look at the implements we are going to use. We are not going to continue to use hoes and cutlasses, and even the tractors we are going to be using are probably electric ones that will be able to do things faster. Technology will definitely be used to support agriculture.
What will be your message to Nigerian youths as regards creating employment through Information Technology?
It is easy for Nigerian youths to adapt to the use of technology, but my advice is that we should use technology constructively. We should spend more time in developing applications. We should be able to develop different apps that will help different situations. Therefore, I think Nigerian youths should use technology constructively.