21st century digital technologies have transformed every aspect of modern life, changing the narrative from traditional methods of doing things to more digitalized and simplified ways. Now more than ever businesses and the economy are increasingly influenced by technology and its advancement.
The digital economy refers to an economy in which digital computing technologies and ICT are used in economic activities and business ventures. The widespread adoption of Information Communication Technologies (ICT) across the globe combined with the rapid decline in price and increase in the performance of these technologies has heightened the development of new activities in both the private and public sector. These new technologies allow market reach and are cost effective, it offers innovations, disruptions and opportunities for developing new products and services. This has completely changed the business design and model of multinational enterprises, nations, as well as, start-ups. And so basically digital economy connotes the application of technology and ICT to economic and business activities. The main concepts of a digital economy revolves around, E-business infrastructure and E-commerce which basically concerns itself with all business process that is conducted over computer-mediated networks, transfer or sale of goods and services online.
On a global scale the digital economy is estimated to be worth US$11.5 trillion, or 15.5 percent of global GDP according to a 2016 Oxford Economy report. The burgeoning performance of the digital economy is expected to grow even more massively to 24.3 percent of global GDP by 2025. There is huge potential for digitalization in Africa with the continent expected to reap USD300 billion by 2025 from the internet and digitalization. By strengthening its digital infrastructure, boosting skills cum capacity training for its youth population, and implementing digital economic diversification Nigeria as Africa’s biggest economy will be adequately positioned to take a bigger chunk of the global digital economy and the enormous advantages it offers. Already ICT is boosting productivity in Nigeria having contributed N500 billion to the Nigerian economy in 2014, created 2.5 million jobs, attracted $30 billion foreign investment between the year 2003 to 2014 and contributed 13.9% to Nigeria’s GDP, in the year 2019. It is clear that Nigeria is poised for massive economic development and growth through the entrenchment of digital economy, Nigeria’s ICT infrastructure and other pre requisites hugely inadequate is for a digital economy.
Network Readiness, Access to the internet, Technological readiness, ICT infrastructures, E-Services etc. are still quite deficient with the country ranking very low in global index that reflects these factors which make for an outstanding digital economy. Only 61.2% of the Nigerian population enjoys access to the Internet with internet broadband penetration in Nigeria at approximately 37.8 per cent, less than 40 per cent of the populace.
In order for the country to fully harness the full power of digitization, it will need to redouble its efforts in ICT infrastructure and access to internet. The internet data rate offered by telecom companies are exorbitant thus creating a digital divide and streamlining access to internet. The federal government will need to collaborate with relevant stakeholders both public and private to address this hindrance to internet and broadband. A new national broadband plan committee to drive the nation’s Broadband plan with the sole objective of boosting internet access and increasing broadband penetration to 70% by 2025 has been set up, government should ensure strict oversight to ensure these targets are met.
Conclusively in order to encourage active agency in the emerging digital era every Nigerians need digital skills in order to meet global competitiveness, therefore the government needs to increase efforts towards creating and improving digital skills in terms of software programming and AI Robotics among her citizens as this will fully integrate the populace into the 21st century digital economy.