Following the formal declaration that Nigeria is completely free from the deadly Ebola Virus, the Minister of Communications Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, has disclosed that a combination of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools, helped in containing the virus.
She listed the ICT tools to include the use of an Android app, Facebook and twitter.
Johnson made the disclosure in Busan, Republic of Korea, during the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) 2014 Plenipotentiary Conference.
Johnson informed delegates made up of ministers and senior officials from across the globe during the conference that mobile phone app helped in reducing reporting times of infections by seventy-five per cent. She said test results were scanned to tablets and uploaded to emergency databases and field teams got text message alerts on their phones informing them of the results.
Johnson explained that the combination of the internet and mobile cellular phones opened up tremendous opportunities for countries like Nigeria.
The steep increase in mobile use, according to Johnson, is driven by a number of factors, particularly, the additional ways in which mobile phones are being used in Nigeria. She added that beyond conducting voice conversations, mobile phones are often the preferred channel for receiving data and for conducting transactions in Nigeria, thus making phones an indispensable tool used as cameras, wallets, shops, music players, movie screens, and information or service centres of Nigerians.
Speaking on Nigeria’s policy focus, Johnson noted it is in step with the reality of the mobile internet revolution spreading across the globe. She said the ministry was looking to create a viable environment for the proliferation of lower priced devices, increased investment in network infrastructure, and increased availability of spectrum for mobile broadband, in the knowledge that these will further drive growth in the nation’s ICT sector.
Johnson also disclosed that through the implementation of the National ICT Policy, National Broadband Roadmap, and Guidelines for Nigerian Content in ICT, the ministry is bringing greater clarity and predictability to the Nigerian ICT sector.
She said in the past four years, Nigeria had seen mobile subscription increase from 87 million active Sim cards to over 131 million and mobile internet subscription stood at 67 million as at June 2014.
The ministry’s policy framework, Johnson added is in line with the ITU’s strategic plan for 2016-2019, particularly its identified goals and targets of growth, inclusiveness, sustainability, innovation and partnership.
“The ICT sector’s contribution to Nigeria’s GDP is growing and was about ten and a half per cent (10.44%) in 2013. The sector also indirectly impacts GDP through its influence on other key sectors; for example, in the 2013, ICTs were responsible for twelve per cent (12.05 per cent) of the value added by the Finance and Insurance sector to GDP. In terms of social growth, ICTs are helping government to meet health objectives, and are amplifying benefits in the education and agriculture sectors,” Johnson said.
The ITU’s growth priority of enabling and fostering access to and increased use of telecommunications/ICTs according to Johnson, resonates with Nigeria, both economically and socially.