Ibrahim Idris Bello
As the biggest economy in Africa, Nigeria is well-positioned to develop a strong digital economy. This would have a transformational impact on the country. In order to reap the benefits, Nigeria needs to focus on accelerating improvements in five fundamental pillars of a digital economy: digital infrastructure, digital platforms, digital financial services, digital entrepreneurship and digital skills.
According to the World Bank’s Diagnostic Framework, Nigeria is uniquely positioned to reap the benefits of the emerging digital economy. Across the African continent, Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and Kenya dominate funding raised by startups.
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Nigeria alone accounts for 35% of total funds raised on the continent and is home to several high-growth digital companies that are international in scope, with access to local funding through a growing venture capital network.
The new truism is that digital infrastructure is a country’s most precious asset. This is the prism through which we should look at and appreciate the developmental role of Nigeria’s Galaxy Backbone (GBB) agency which is Nigeria’s digital infrastructure and shared services provider.
Many are unaware that it is an agency of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy whose creation was meant to help the government properly manage its IT operations and advance the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) towards becoming a fully digitized government.
In the last decade, the progress that has been made in digitization could only have been possible because of this decision by the government to centralize its IT operations and empower the company to perform its functions for the nation.
Today, it has positioned its digital infrastructure platform to enable private businesses and government establishments alike to power their operations real-time and on demand.
The information technology space is huge. The interesting thing about this industry locally and globally is its fast pace of evolution and transformation. As customer requirements expand, the potential and possibilities of this industry that now powers all industries expand too.
As an organization that is aware of the reality that it cannot be everything or all things to its numerous customers and stakeholders, the company has chosen to focus on one area that can help create the platform for other local ICT companies, original equipment manufacturers and organizations from the private and public sector dealing with a lot of data.
This is why it is oftentimes described as the digital infrastructure organization, in that it is providing the hosting and colocation platform for software/applications and hardware services organizations to leverage on.
Galaxy Backbone consistently reminds organizations in the private sector that it does not intend to compete with them. Rather, its major objective is to partner with them so that they can serve their customers better.
It is doing well in providing the services needed by her clients. Today, it manages some of the nation’s most critical infrastructure. It’s Tier III Data Centre, which is certified by the uptime global institute, the Network Monitoring and Management Centre and its Security Operations Centre.
These infrastructures help the government manage its digital transformation journey seamlessly while providing the base for effective and reliable security in the digital space. Because it operates mostly from the background, the company has successfully managed these infrastructures with only very few citizens being unaware of the strategic role the organization plays in national development.
The company continues to strive to deliver effectively on the mandate the government, in its wisdom, has saddled it with despite challenges, setbacks and some misconceptions about its limitations by the public.
The organisation has endeavoured to engrave a positive impression in the minds of its customers and stakeholders is how unnecessary excesses have been eliminated, processes enhanced and a much more engaging internal organizational structure set up to ensure the operations of the organization is well felt by its customers.
Some IT operations are managed by some MDAs because that is what they have requested, while others are managed directly by the organisation’s back end, mostly. However, because it’s committed to ensuring all of the government’s digital operations are working effectively, it does not hesitate to go out of its way to support MDAs when called upon and this has happened on numerous occasions.
As the nation and indeed the world continues to embrace digital economy and hybrid work, the huge importance of digital Infrastructures will become clearer and organisations across the public and private sectors will continue to realize the huge importance and role digital infrastructure plays in the nation’s development.
It is important to remember that just at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when it seemed like all government operations were put on hold, Nigeria’s digital infrastructure played a significant role in ensuring that the government continued to perform adequately and effectively.
If there are doubts about the necessity of digital transformation to socio-economic sustainability, it is no longer so as it is safe to hope that Nigeria is ready to become one of the most progressive digital economies in Africa.
Dr. Ibrahim Idris Bello wrote from Abuja