Akano - Nigerians Must Acquire New ICT Skills to Get the Best Jobs [interview]
(AllAfrica Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Tim Akano is the CEO, New Horizons Nigeria, and the Vice Chairman of WiniGroup, an IT-Security and Business Solutions company. He spoke with Emma Okonjion how ICT would drive growth in the Nigerian economy in 2013 and beyond, and the need for Nigerian government and youth as well as corporate organisations, military, media houses and universities, to invest in ICT and remain relevant in business and in the job space. Excerpts:
New Horizons is known for information communications technology (ICT) training for individuals, schools, and corporate organisations. What is your interest in cyber security issues
You are right, because eight years ago, New Horizons spearheaded the ICT revolution in Nigerian universities and schools to the current enviable level where Nigeria has been able to produce multiple award ICT champions in global competitions like Microsoft, Certiport, EC-Council, Cisco, among others. My interest in world cyber security issues is not unconnected with my position as the Vice Chairman of the America based WiniGroup, a foremost IT-Security and Business Solutions company, with presence in Nigeria.
Having played prominently as the Chief Executive New Horizons training institute, I am also interested in cyber security issues by virtue of my position as the Vice Chairman of WiniGroup. Again I am ready to lead a twin revolution in the area of 'Virtual University' and 'Mobility Millionaires'. Last year, I brought out the issue of 'Cyber Apathy' against Nigeria during the 2012 World Cyber Security conference in Abuja that was co-hosted by the Defence Headquarters and New Horizons Nigeria.
What is your take on the proliferation of smartphones in the Nigerian market, in relation to cyber security
There are already in the market today over 1,000 brands of smartphone and tablets across the globe. The market will witness many more new smartphones and tablets joining the already saturated segment and then the current 'blue Smartphone Ocean' will turn 'Red Ocean' and there will be stiff competition for market survivability.
You had always advocated mobile application development as the new trend of economic development. How will Nigeria be part of the new technology trend
The new trend that is generating the bulk money is not in oil and gas, it is not in telecommunication companies selling of air-time. It is also not in selling hardware like tablets and Smartphone. No! The new money is in Mobile Apps development. Nigeria has to key into the development of mobile applications that will drive smartphones, tablets, laptops, iPads, Personal Computers (PCs), among others. Top on the league table of hardware manufacturers today includes HTC's butterfly, Dell's Streak, Microsoft's Surface, ZTE's Nubia, Huawei's Ascend Mate, Blackberry, DataWind's UbiSlate, Samsung's Galaxy Note, iPad , iPhone , Goggle Smartphone, Kindle, NOOK, Techno, and Intel's Yolo among others, and they need software applications to drive the device, and that is where the money is and Nigeria must tap into it. For consumers, it is good news as prices of hardware devices will continue to drop in 2013, thus giving rise to more demand of the products.
What is your take on the market competition between Android Operating Systems and the Apple's iOS Operating System
Very soon computer tablets and smartphones will become increasingly commoditised. There will be heavy causalities in this market this year. My take is that ultimately, the Apple strategy will not stand the test of time, except Apple changes its 'closed strategy' and open up its operating system for others to come in and take advantage of it, to further develop the technology. Human beings are social animals and they cherish freedom, variety and flexibility above other considerations.
Therefore, Apple's closed strategy cannot win in the final analysis. Android Operating System, with its flexibility and ease of use will erode Apple's market share soon. Already, about 90 per cent of the Smartphone shipped in the last quarter of 2012 had Android Operating System inside. This perhaps explains the Apple shareholder increasing anxiety about the future of Apple without its founder, Steve Jobs. Little wonder why Apple stocks fell by 12 per cent in January this year alone. Nokia and Microsoft, the famous two giants will pull a positive surprise in this space in 2013. Blackberry will not make much impact in North America and Europe, despite the new blackberry E10 that was released in January 2013. But in Nigeria, despite the popularity of Blackberry chatting facility, there will be serious attempt to snatch its 'feeding bottle' in Nigeria by other Smartphone makers this year.
You earlier talked about mobility evolution. What is it all about
In the long and short of it, we are in a year of mobility. Our lives in schools, organisations, churches, homes, cars, all over will revolve around mobile devices. Things that were hitherto impossible will be made possible through mobile devices like using mobile phone as car key, or as door key to the house, using mobile phones to start and off air conditioners or to control the refrigerator temperature among others. All these will happen this year as the signs are ripe already. It is my prediction that Nigeria will play a more central role in Mobility Evolution this year, beyond its current role of pure consumer of technology solutions and devices.
Again 2013 is a year of what I call "Collaborative Open Source (COS). So if Apple does not change its current strategy, we might begin to see the beginning of the end for Apple with regards to its domination of Smartphone business. Smartphone will become a commodity, and will sell for N15, 000 and will perform all the functions and contain all the features of the so called high end smartphones. All these will happen before the end of this year. Therefore the current players that sell smartphones for N100, 000.00 and above will lose market share to what I call 'Economy of Smartphones', if they do not change strategy. Finally, Mobile Homogeneity (Apple model) will begin to encounter huge problem, while Mobile Heterogeneity (Android model) will thrive and dominate the market. The question now is: where does Nigeria stand in all these Or how does this benefit Nigerians I predict the emergence of 'new application software developer millionaires" in Nigeria in the next five years that will compete financially with Aliko Dangote of Dangote Group of companies, Mike Adenuga of Globacom, and Jim Ovia of Visafone.
Before now, the rich people in the society have always emerged from Trade and Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, and Telecoms, or Banking and Finance. But with mobile application, the new billionaires will emerge from ICT.
I therefore challenge the Ministry of Information Communications Technology to create an enabling platform to achieve this.
Today's technology is evolving into cloud solution and cloud computing. Are there possibilities of convergence between cloud solution and mobility evolution that you talked about
The line between mobile and cloud solution will become thinner in 2013 and the concept of a personal computer will be replaced with the new concept of a private cloud. Most individual and commercial services including storage synchronisation across devices will be hosted on private cloud going forward. Life will move more virtual in 2013. The concept of Virtual Alien is very critical for Nigerian youth as they can tap into the opportunity to work for foreign companies and get paid in dollar without travelling abroad. Office of the future will migrate to virtual office. More people will begin to work from home as against having physical office, and this will be driven by the convergence of cloud solution and mobile evolution. About 6 million Americans worked from home in 2012, and this new development will become global phenomena in 2013. With the improvement in Internet and broadband, it becomes easier to go virtual even in education, in church activities, and in the media. Virtual education is growing like a wild fire now globally.
With the possible migration to virtual office, do you envisage the demise of physical office
For the past three years, the question has been who needs an office This question has come up repeatedly at global conferences and seminars. From 2013, what I call 'Brief Case Offices' will gradually begin to replace the traditional brick- and- mortar space. In the US alone, the Census Bureau estimates that six million Americans work from home. With the improvement in internet bandwidth supply in Nigeria, cloud computing will make data backups and real-time collaboration, idea- sharing, become much easier and remove the need for physical walls. Video conferencing with better picture and sound quality at cheaper prices will become possible. Therefore, if the Nigerian government is desirous of creating small and medium business that will thrive without incurring the huge cost of physical office, it will need to provide 'hot spots' all over Nigeria and cut down on the accessing fees.
Agencies in charge of small and medium business like the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), National Directorate of Employment (NDE) and even the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) can take over this responsibility. There is need for fresh and new thinking in the government approach to job and wealth creation. There is too much 'old thinking', which technology has rendered obsolete. For instance if SURE-P had invested just 10 per cent of oil subsidy in what I call 'Job Enabling Technologies', by now it would have created over 1million jobs using technology. Even the media houses must become virtual in its operations. I once proposed to some of them that the media houses that will thrive today in the midst of migration of advertisement to the 'new media' space of goggle, twitter, Facebook, etc, will have to give serious consideration to virtual newsrooms as opposed to the traditional newsrooms with its concomitant huge capital outlay.
If everything goes virtual, what have you to say about the Nigeria educational system
The Nigerian educational system will go virtual as well, going by the current trend in technology evolution. Those who think Nigerians will not attend virtual universities are making mistakes. This was the same thinking on the eve of Nigerian joining the league of Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) countries. One of the telecoms companies that bided but pulled out at the eleventh hour, later regretted its pull-out decision. It had said openly that Nigerians were too poor to afford GSM telephone in a way that would make the successful bidders recover their $150 million investment in five years. There is a global wave of change across the educational industry as I speak to you. There is clamour for the 're-education of our educational system'.
The educational system today is too expensive and 'wall-off' so many brilliant young minds because of space constraints and limited infrastructure in the traditional universities. There is unanimity of opinion with regards to 'education for all' concept. The vehicle to achieve this has been built already and it is ready to zoom off. This will be achieved through online education. For instance last year a small start-up company that hosted classes for 30 universities in the US, trained 1.7million students in its online courses. This is 1.7 million that the tradition brick- and- mortar universities would have fenced-out.
This is a wake-up call on the National University Commission (NUC) in Nigeria to, as Ronald Regan shouted at the Berlin Wall in the 80s, 'Bring down the Berlin Wall of Traditional University'. The issue of quality of students that would be turned out of the virtual universities should not be used as a factor to sustain the Berlin Wall of traditional university. No. After all, even the quality of the graduates in the present system is being questioned every day. Those who go to virtual or traditional universities will have to compete for limited jobs at the end of the day- so let the employers be the best judge. At any rate, as I speak, thousands of Nigerians are undergoing courses like Money Management, Information Technology, Sales and Marketing to complex courses like Artificial Intelligence and Engineering at IMT, Harvard, and Stanford among others. If the Berlin Wall of traditional university is brought down, the foreign exchange that our youths spend in these foreign universities will be retained in Nigeria. It was reported that Ghana universities earned up to $1billion from Nigerian students in one year alone. This is my point. $1billion retained in Nigeria will create one million jobs in the education sector. The answer is in virtual universities.
IT insecurity has been a major threat to business. How will Nigerians secure their businesses from online hacking
Information Technology (IT) insecurity is not peculiar to Nigerian businesses alone but it is already a major concern globally. IT Security threat will become even more serious in 2013 and beyond. The recent news about the hacking of the Federal Reserve and Wall Street Journal and Twitter accounts in the US is a tip of the iceberg as to what will come this year. In Nigeria, where IT-Security is usually handled with levity, and with more young people acquiring IT skills, with little opportunity to earn a decent income due to poor infrastructure, they will be forced to indulge in Technoprenure (cyber activities).
These youths will become vulnerable to banks, universities, government agencies and other corporate organisations, just to 'earn huge money' by hacking into their database and sell it for huge amount in the online booming black market. The way out of this pending hacking- earthquake is for organisations and business owners in Nigeria to embrace encryption. Organisations and businesses that will go unhurt, un-embarrassed and stand protected this year and beyond will need what I call: '7-Layer IT-Security Sweater' to cover its origination's body. Fortunately, this '7-Layer IT-Security Sweater' already exists in Nigeria.
What are the latest ICT skills that will give Nigerian youth their dream jobs in 2013
It takes the acquisition of several IT skills to get the high flying jobs for 2013 and beyond. As it is in mobility where heterogeneity carries the day, so it is in skill- people with multiple ICT skills, where they will win over people with one specialised skill. The reason is simple. Previous ICT skill is becoming obsolete at the speed of light, so one-skill man will have no place in the current space of technology evolution.
There are10 hottest ICT skills in 2013 that will give Nigerian youth their dream jobs. They include Software Development, Mobile Application Development, Web Development, IT Security, Network Management, Service Management, Virtualisation, Database Management, Business Skills and Finishing.
Anyone with Software Management skills will automatically become hot cake for Banks, Telecoms, Manufacturing organisations, who are in search of competitive edge. Therefore Nigerians that are very good in Android, Java, Oracle, Microsoft, will not be among the unemployed in 2013, and they will also be the first to be promoted in their workplace.
For Mobile Apps Development, over 60 per cent of the world's 7 billion population, are embracing mobility. In the 80s, the winner was Microsoft's Window Apps, but today, the winner is Mobile Apps, and this will continue in the years to come.
For Web Development, every one, every business, every church, every government wants to be online. This is why skills in web development will continue to grow.
IT-Security skill is key. Even when there was economic recession in the US some years ago, the only set of ICT practitioner whose income grew in disproportionate degree to others is the IT-Security practitioners. Therefore, EC-Council skills in CEH, CHFI, ECSA, LPT and the new skills on Secured Computer User Certification (SCUC) will remain the industry standard for a long time to come, and other skills are also very important.
Copyright This Day. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
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