Although disruption has long been a threat for some industries, the rise of digital technologies has accelerated the pace of disruption in virtually every industry, creating immense ambiguity and unease.
Meanwhile, uncertainty continues to accelerate in the broader business environment as the rate at which new technologies emerge increases exponentially making competition increasingly fierce. The dominance of standardisation has never been more under threat than now as we approach the 4th industrial revolution with the emergence of 5G networks.
Speaking at the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) with the theme ‘Bridging the standardization gap’ in Abuja, the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu said the emerging changes in technologies, however, were also creating immense opportunities and that the tools to prosper during the age of digital disruption were accessible and available.
“The upcoming 5G standards, especially if coupled with artificial intelligence, will support a new range of applications which we will soon take for granted; from self-driving cars to safer and smart cities,” he said.
He pointed out that the overarching goal of bridging the standardization gap (BSG) programme was to facilitate increased participation of developing countries in standardization to ensure that developing countries experience the economic benefits of associated technological development, and to better reflect the requirements and interests of developing countries in the standards-development project.
“It is in light of the above that ITU standards is consistently being pursued to ensure the interoperability, open up global markets and spur innovation and growth. These standards are good for both the developed and developing countries. They will also help accelerate ICTs for all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“The BSG is a fundamental part of ITU’s mission to connect the world. It is also one of the strategic objectives of ITU’s standardization sector (ITU-T). It will also address the disparities in the ability of developing countries, relative to developed ones, to access, implement and influence ITU’s international standards,” he further stated.
Shittu represented by the director, radio monitoring and survey, Kilyobas Binga, stressed the need for the county to bridge the standardisation gap in the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector, saying the essence of the call was to ensure that the country experienced economic benefits of associated technological developments.
According to him, the purpose of the WTISD is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of internet and other ICTs can bring development to societies and economies as well as bridge the digital divide.
The minister also emphasised that setting standards was a fundamental pillar of Information Technology Union’s (ITU’s) mission as specialised agency of the United Nations for ICT and called on ITU member-states to support the BSG programme even as he assured Nigeria and the ministry’s commitment to policies that would enable standardization.
“As a digital immigrant, whether you want to connect to the internet, enjoy sports event on television, listen to radio in your car or watch a video on your smartphone, ITU standards make it possible seamlessly, given the ubiquitous mobile broadband.
“It is on this basis that I want to join the ITU body in calling on member-states, industry members, small and big companies and academia, together with UN sister agencies, all stakeholders to support the bridging of standardisation gap programme for the prosperity of all.
“Ministry of Communications is committed to policies to enable citizens, businesses and societies to prosper while mitigating the adverse effects that can accompany economic change. These, we are sure, will encourage investments and promote development of digital economies, while building inclusive digital future for citizens,” he added.
Commenting on the WTISD, the executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the commission was raising the bar of telecom’s equipment standardisation in the country.
He said Nigeria through the commission was raising the bar on standardization in the telecom sector by entrenching standards, monitoring compliance; increased collaboration on equipment standardisation; infraco initiative: deepening wireless connectivity in era of emerging technologies and focusing on pervasive digital future.
The NCC boss said the WTIS-2019 would allow ITU members and other key stakeholders to focus on the opportunities for participation of developing countries in ITU’s standards-making process; empowering local experts in the standardisation process at the national, regional and international levels; and promoting the implementation of international standards in developing countries.