The rising skills gap in the Nigerian telecommunications sector constitutes a major threat to the future of the $75.6 billion industry, a telecoms policy enthusiast, Mr Omobayo Azeez, has warned.
Azeez noted this while delivering a keynote presentation on ‘Bridging Skills Gap to Accelerate the Indigenous Telecoms Development’ at the just concluded second edition of the Nigerian Telecommunications Indigenous Content Expo (NTICE 2023) organised in Lagos by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
According to him, for the sector to continue to thrive, telecoms companies require professionals with skills in various areas such as cybersecurity, data analytics, wireless network engineering, software development, fibre optics engineering, IP networking skills, cloud computing, and VSAT engineering among others, but which are not sufficiently available at the moment.
According to the convener of the Policy Implementation Assisted Forum (PIAFo), available data shows a high global demand for tech workers particularly in the telecoms sector. This is why the situation is even scarier for a low-middle income country such as Nigeria because high-income economies that desire similar skilled labour will always have their way enticing away capable hands and talents from here.
“This is happening already,” he said, adding that in 2022 alone, operators in the sector lamented losing over 2,000 trained telecoms personnel in Nigeria to other countries.
“This has hampered the rate at which operators recruit. For instance, operators across the GSM, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Value-Added Services (VAS), Fixed Services and other sub-segments of the sector have only employed an additional 679 workers in the last three years, which cannot serve licensees in the sector even at a one-to-one ratio.
In his address, Azeez, who doubles as Team Lead, Business Metrics Limited, encouraged industry stakeholders to leverage the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector (NPPIC), among other local content policies to develop homegrown talents with skill capacities that are globally competitive.