According to a recent report by the World Wide Web Foundation and Alliance for Affordable Internet, global and regional Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) invested about $50 million in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) projects in Nigeria between 2012 and 2017.
The report also pointed out that investments by MDB in the ICT sector in low and middle-income countries across the globe are low. Of the cumulative $525 million MDBs investment between 2012 and 2016, only 1% of this fund goes to ICT projects.
And of the 1% that goes into ICT projects, infrastructure takes the largest share with 39% and only 9% was for innovation/tech hubs within the 4-year period.
Do note that the representation of funding within the ICT sector is based on a sample of 155 identified ICT projects approved by 9 global and regional MDBs between January 2012 and December 2016.
The report also claimed that Ministries of Finance don’t prioritise the ICT sector is raising funds from international institutions.
There’s the need for governments of low and middle-income countries, and DMBs should prioritise ICT projects for their investments considering as the importance of investment in this sector cannot be overlooked.
It’s noteworthy that the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Umar Danbatta affirmed that the ICT sector contributes ₦1.6 trillion quarterly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as at last year.
With contribution like the above, we cant argue the importance of the sector to the economy which is a call to change the investment narrative to re-establish the ICT sector as a priority sector.
The report calls for the creation of funding mechanisms suitable for rural area projects which include last-mile solutions while also increasing the amount dedicated to financing smaller and often transitional projects.
Assessing and learning from areas of policy failure to inform the development of new enabling frameworks was also recommended.