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Nigeria braces up for robust digital transformation post pandemic



Nigeria braces up for robust digital transformation post pandemic
  • All is set for broadband, says Danbatta
  • ATCON, NITDA, NCC, NigComSat, others share vision


Indications are rife that Nigeria’s information and communication technology (ICT) sector is poised to afford the country robust digital transformation at the end of the current Coronavirus pandemic.

According to experts in the industry who rubbed minds at a webinar organised by the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) on Thursday, the country has not yet attained desired level of digital reform but is quite on the right path.

In his opening remarks, Olusola Teniola, president of the association, said that the increase in the contribution of the sector to the economy which hit 14.07 per cent in Q1, 2020 underscores how much more value the sector is ready to create even after the pandemic.

He also attributed the leap recorded in ICT’s share of the GDP to various efforts by government agencies towards actualization of the digital economy target of the country, championed by Isa Pantami, minister of communication and digital economy.

“Permit me to also commend Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Mr Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Director-General/CEO, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) for their show of support to the honourable Minister in moving the industry to an enviable trajectory which can be explained by the recent 14.07 per cent Q12020 contribution of the Nigerian telecom and ICT sector to the country’s GDP.

“It will not also be wrong to commend the efforts of our member company CEOs who have been making right decisions to put us on this growth path and ensuring our networks withstood the pressures of the stay-at-home COVID-19 directive over the last 3 months,” he said.

While speaking at the virtual meeting on the Socio-Economic and Political Impact of COVID-19 on Telecom and ICT Sector in Nigeria, Umar Danbatta, the EVC of the NCC, assured that all is now set for Internet broadband infrastructure companies (InfraCos) to roll out services across the country.

The EVC reiterated that the Commission will not rest on its oars for speedy roll out of services by the InfraCos to ensure available, affordable and accessible broadband across the country.

He said that with the recent statement showing federal government’s commitment to protect telecom infrastructure and the executive order by state governments harmonizing the price of Right of Way to N145 or outright removal of the price, the commission is confident of the take of infrastructure deployment by the InfraCos.

“The congestion in the telecoms network that we are experiencing exposes the inadequacy of infrastructure that we have been talking about.

“The telecoms service providers must be commended because in the face of this challenge of inadequacy of infrastructure they have at least provided services of reasonable quality. We hope and pray that this will continue despite the challenges.

“Also, this is the time for leveraging the redundancies in other to contain the challenges of (network) congestion. By redundancies, I mean infrastructure redundancies; that is fiber networks.

“Now, we are all convinced that there is infrastructure deficit in this country and the quickest way we can address this is to roll out fast; deploying more infrastructure through the InfraCos.

“Everything that is needed to commence the infrastructure projects in the various zones, have been done and very soon the honourable minister of communications and digital economy, Dr. Isa Pantami will provide the exact time that these projects will kick-off.

“Also, the government is studying the situations very well. At the same time, government is convinced in putting in place those measures that will drive the deployment of infrastructure that we are hoping to see.

“It is more important, right from the beginning, that the protection of telecom infrastructure is critical.

“Secondly,  is the issue of Right of Way (RoW). With the challenges of RoW, no meaningful progress will be made even if we attend to deploy more infrastructure.

“By the federal government’s statement and what we have seen some state government do by either sticking to the harmonized price of Right of Way or by waving it all together, I think we are making a statement that finally this country is ready to deploy infrastructure,” Danbatta said.

The virtual discussion also featured the Minister Pantami; director generals of Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA); Galaxy Backbone, Nigeria Communication Satellite (NigCOMSAT), Biodun Omoniyi, chief executive officer of VDT, among others.

ATCON, the organiser of the meeting, and other participants from private and public sector unanimously agree that the disruption caused by COVID-19 has given fillip to adoption of digital tools.

They emphasized that the new way of doing it will stay post pandemic, and as such, effort must be made to prepare the sector for a robust digital transformation envisioned to follow.

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