Information and communications technology, or ICT, generated 18.44 percent of the total real GDP in Q2 2022, according to data released over the weekend by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBC.
In the previous three contributions—Q1 2020, Q2 2021, and now Q2 2022—the sector has consistently exceeded both itself and other sectors.
Prof. Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, and other industry stakeholders are urging the federal government to refocus its priorities and keep an eye on the big pie, despite the fact that this is the sector’s highest-ever contribution to the GDP.
The Minister asserted that a number of factors, such as the government’s commitment to advancing the digital economy, the ministry’s diligent implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria, stakeholder engagement, and the development of an enabling environment, are to blame for the growing contribution of the ICT sector to the GDP.
However, he acknowledged that there is still work to be done to achieve more.
In addition, ALTON Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications of Nigeria, has urged the federal government to use this contribution to refocus on the industry by providing aid and making concessions that will help operators flourish and maintain the momentum in terms of GDP contribution.
The appeal apparently became necessary because, for the third time in a row, ICT has outperformed the oil industry, which is considered to be the backbone of the country, in terms of raising GDP.
NBC reported that the oil sector’s contribution to the total real GDP in Q2 2022 was only 6.33 percent, which was even less than its contributions in Q2 2021 and Q1 2022, when they were 7.42 percent and 6.63 percent, respectively.
ICT’s exceptional contribution pushed the non-oil sector’s contribution to expand by 4.77 per cent in real terms, resulting in a 93.67 per cent contribution to the nation’s GDP in the Q2 ‘2022, greater than Q2 ‘2021 and Q1 ‘2022, where it provided 92.58 per cent and 93.37 per cent respectively.
Pantami said there are more to gain from the sector if the government can only keep paying attention.
“Should the people keep faith with the industry policies the ministry has put in place, the GDP will continue to be stronger with the contributions of ICT” he said.
He said: “The unprecedented contribution of ICT to Nigeria’s GDP is expected. It is as a result of the developments in the digital economy. The 16 National Policies developed by the Ministry, the 1,667 projects and programmes, the large scale digital skills and general capacity building efforts, stakeholder engagement and creation of an enabling environment. They have all played an important role in this achievement.
“Also, the dynamic and result-oriented leadership of the sector, which has been acknowledged and appreciated by a wide spectrum of the stakeholders in the sector, both locally and internationally, played a role.
“The GDP report has shown how critical the ICT sector is to the growth of the country’s digital economy and, by extension, the general economy. We call on all sectors to take advantage of the Federal Government’s new focus on the digital economy to enable and improve their processes through the use of ICTs”
He was supported by Engr Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), who acknowledged that despite inflationary pressures currently in place and the unfavorable effects of regulatory changes, the industry’s outlook is stable on the assumption that the ICT sector will support the recovery of important economic sectors.
He thinks that operators’ projected attempts to diversify their businesses will support the forecast and continue making a sizable contribution to the GDP.
However, he bemoaned that certain services, like telecoms, are being used by all levels of government as a means of internal revenue, which raises the operating environment to a very high and expensive level.
He said: “the government should leverage on this unprecedented contribution to get more from the industry by way of creating incentives that will help operators give more. For instance, access to Foreign exchange, Forex has been a business struggle for operators whose businesses require dollar transactions. They queue all day long to get forex and at the end, may not get enough.
“Again, we are talking about the benefits of 5G; Nigeria may not properly harness them if the operators cannot conveniently bring in the devices and terminals which will enable smooth operations. Obviously we know these devices are not manufactured here in the country.
“So, the government has to think of incentives which will do away with bottlenecks to importing these devices” he stated.