Nigeria, on several fora, has been tipped to be Africa’s hub for the digital economy due to her abundant human resources in cities like Lagos with Yaba dubbed as the Silicon Valley of the country. Technology experts and government’s officials within and outside believe the country could be strategically positioned as the sub-Sahara African foremost e-commerce and technology space, making it a digital economy. They have also called for overhauling of the existing digital ecosystem to really make it effective web economy, especially in the area of skills gap bridging and compete favourably with the top 20 digital economies –Sweden, Denmark, United States, Finland among others. A Recent estimate indicates that Nigeria’s technology-inclined institutions need to produce between 30, 000 and 70,000 information technology personnel annually if the country wants digital to be part of her economy and economy itself.
Largely, digital economies such as Sweden, India, and Denmark achieved their present status due to the overhauling of the existing ecosystem by injecting capital and formulation of policies which encouraged knowledge transfer from experts outside their countries onto the upcoming technology-savvy citizens. With these, the intangible inputs, as well as intangible outputs, are helping the countries in making headway in their web economic activities. India among other developing countries is renowned for the development of new software and database for small, large and corporate businesses.
In Africa and indeed Nigeria, poor technology infrastructure and skilled professionals are preventing businesses from maximizing benefits of Internet of Things like their counterparts in developed continents. Over the years, this has been affecting presence of foreign direct investors. There is no doubt digital human capital remains a major weakness to the growth of Business Process Outsourcing and other activities associated with digital economy. Despite being the country with the largest Information and Communication Technology sector with $18 billion investment, the sector is being overwhelmed with software and application developers’ deficit. For Nigeria, meeting her aspiration of massive ICT infrastructural development by 2043 requires about 300,000 skilled professionals. Evidence has shown that countries with a high human capital stock and improvement experienced faster output growth in ICT and other related industries.
Discovering some of the challenges facing the sector and readiness to diversify the country’s economy, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is making frantic efforts towards conversion of some existing ICT institutes into degree awarding schools. As government continued with this step, there is a need for the professionals in the sector who have acquired knowledge, skills and possessed local and international experiences to come to the sector rescue by establishing training schools for the training of software and application developers that will drive the digital economy. Professionals’ intervention becomes necessary because experience has shown that government’s institutions cannot cater for the sector’s needs singlehanded. Many public institutions saddled with the responsibility of equipping citizenry with necessary ICT skills are facing mirage of problems ranging from lack of functional facilities to outdated curriculum.
Globally, software and application development subsector of ICT is growing exponentially due to businesses need to acquire and use different technologies for their daily operations. In 2013, Gartner reported that the size of the worldwide software industry was $407.3 billion. In the south-west region, more than 100 software development companies are serving over 2 million businesses. This is quite low to what is obtainable in advanced countries. Businesses and individuals need software for effective maximization of benefits inherent in PCs, handhelds, mobile phones, the Internet, GSM, wireless telephony, network devices among others. Desktop development is still the most-popular place to be, attracting 50% of professional developers, and making money for them too, according to 2016’s Developer Economic Study.
The schools or training centres when founded will support government’s effort in manpower development for the sector by producing personnel that will develop tailored software and applications demanded by accounting, legal, banking, financial services and game companies. A recent estimates show that banking, telecoms and e-commerce industries will create about 50,000 entry level jobs by 2020 and that software and application developers will be most sought after. Most of the personnel are expected to be deployed to e-platform section because a great number of customers will embrace mobile services by 2017 with the anticipated revenue of $77 billion.
Aside from training centre establishment, Software as a Service is another area Nigerian professionals can exploit. Global SaaS software revenues are forecasted to reach $106 billion in 2016, increasing 21% over projected 2015 spending levels. Businesses have started feeling the effects of this technology and reacting differently. Majority want developers that would help in reducing the impacts without endangering their future development. Mobile apps, desktop apps, Internet of Things and Cloud Services remain core vectors in software development which require multi-skill workers. Recent study reveals that 34% of professionals focused on a vector, while substantial number are working in at least two.