Telecoms: growing despite the challenges – New Telegraph
As Nigeria marked 61 years of independence, players in the telecommunications sector are counting the gains and growth trajectory amid a myriad of challenges that have seen industry players turn to many for help. times. SAMSON AKINTARO Reports
From Nigeria’s monopoly Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), which was established in 1985, Nigeria gained its telecommunications independence through the liberalization of the sector in 2001. This helped the country move from 450,000 fixed lines to l ‘time to over 187 million. active mobile lines and more than 140 million Internet users. Looking back, Nigeria has undoubtedly made remarkable progress in telecommunications and the use of information and communication technology (ICT) tools in general. Economically, the country continues to gain tremendously in many ways as it increases the GDP. However, these did not translate into complete independence of the country with regard to technology. The country is known to be entirely dependent on imported technologies, despite the increasing efforts of local experts in the development of artisanal technologies and this is a worrying trend that successive administrations have failed to stop.
Contribution to GDP
The Nigerian telecommunications market is ranked as the largest and fastest growing in Africa and among the 10 fastest growing telecommunications markets in the world, an indication of its robustness for return on investment. From a private sector investment of around $ 50 million in 1999, the telecommunications industry in Nigeria had, by the end of 2017, attracted no less than $ 70 billion in private sector investment and investment. Foreign Direct (FDI), according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). . NCC Executive Vice President Professor Umar Danbatta, who recently revealed this, said the telecommunications sector’s contribution to GDP is growing by around $ 5 billion every quarter. Over the years, the sector’s contributions to GDP have increased. In the second quarter of this year, for example, telecommunications contributed 14.42 percent of the country’s GDP.
hairman of the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, while recounting the gains and challenges of the telecoms sector since independence in 1960, said for 41 years since Nigeria’s accession At independence until the time of GSM rollout in 2001, the country was only able to connect 400,000 lines, which he attributed to a time when the government declared telecommunications the exclusive right of the rich in society. âDuring 41 years of independence, that was before the deployment of GSM services in Nigeria, the country had 400,000 lines, but at 61 years of independence, that is to say after the deployment of GSM services, the Nigeria has over 200 million telephone lines. This means that over the past 20 years when GSM was rolled out, the Nigerian population grew and more and more people now have access to phone lines. This shows that GSM is a tool and a basis for faster development in the telecommunications sector, on which other sectors now rely for their growth and development. âOver the past 20 years of GSM deployment, telecommunications have also contributed to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and have greatly contributed to the Nigerian economy. “We are therefore bold to say that telecommunications have worked well and have remained one of the pillars of modern development and economic empowerment in Nigeria,” Adebayo said. He added that looking inward, it was evident that ICT had become the future technology that countries had to adopt. “Considering the base that ICTs have enabled, one can quickly say that in 10 years, Nigeria will be part of the group of nations that will be at the forefront of modern science and development, with telecommunications becoming one of the pilots. of such a development, âAdebayo noted. According to him, the growth and development that have been enabled by the telecoms sector since independence has been tremendous.
However, 19 years after the liberalization of telecommunications, many challenges still prevent Nigeria from fully exploiting the potential of telecommunications.
The problem of poor quality of service remains a major headache for most telecommunications consumers in the country today and is the result of several challenges that militate against efficient service delivery. Recently briefing the Senate Communications Committee on some of the industry’s problems, NCC executive vice president Professor Umar Danbatta cited power as one of the biggest challenges facing telecommunications operations in the country. With the poor power supply to the grid, Danbatta said service providers spend a huge amount of money on a daily basis to power their base stations. The EVC noted that the issue of multiple regulations and multiple taxation continued to hold back the industry. âUnfair taxes and charges levied on telecommunications operators are a disadvantage to the deployment of infrastructure in the telecommunications sector. “However, he said there are ongoing engagements with different levels of government and government agencies at federal, state and local levels,” he said. Other challenges highlighted by the EVC include security issues, equipment theft, cuts in transmission cables, delays in site approval for new base stations, harassment by some agencies government, particularly at the state level, and the right of way (right of way) issue.
Quality of service
ALTON President Adebayo noted that although there has been an improvement in the quality of service since 2001, various environmental factors beyond the regulator and telecom operators continue to hamper the quality of service. According to him, âfor Nigeria to have unimpeded quality of service, all critical factors must be considered, which, he said, include electricity supply, roads, government policies on human rights. passage (rights-of-way) and multiple taxes. Adebayo therefore advised the government not to tax telecommunications operations to death, as is currently seen in some states of the federation. Adebayo, who congratulated the federal government on approving the deployment of the 5G network in Nigeria, said: âAt 61 years of independence, the government has made the right decision to approve the 5G deployment policy for the Nigeria. âIt’s because 5G is the next generation network that will accelerate development. Countries without 5G will stifle their growth and development. Thus, the approval of the 5G deployment in Nigeria by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), which coincides with Nigeria’s 61st Independence Celebration, is quite significant and this will provide a solid foundation for the future development of ICT in the country. Nigeria.
Local content still elusive
During the last three years of the current administration, the sector has not lacked regular rhetoric on local content in ICT, which has not translated into any significant change. With around 200 million people and a diverse culture, Nigeria is a real market for any product or service and, with that, it’s no surprise that the best tech products from around the world always find their way into the country. Indeed, there is no cutting edge technology in the world that a Nigerian does not already use and that is why billions of dollars leave the country every year thanks to the importation of ICTs. According to the current Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Panatami, Nigeria spends $ 2.8 billion per year on importing ICT products and services. Imported products include telecommunications, audio and video, computers and related equipment; electronic components, software and many more. To corroborate this, the Director General of the National Office for the Acquisition and Promotion of Technology, Dr Ibrahim DanAzumi, also recently said, albeit cautiously, that 90 percent of the technologies used in Nigeria were imported. . Not so long ago, the Office for Nigerian Content Development (ONC) in the field of information and communications technology (ICT) also stated that the preference for foreign ICT products and services was causing Nigeria a loss of over 1 trillion naira of foreign exchange per year.
Even though the issue of local content and overreliance on foreign technologies has always been at the forefront for years, there does not appear to be a clear policy to change the situation, except for a few government statements and guidelines that eventually disappear. a little after. However, stakeholders hope that the most recent digital economy policy and the National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 will provide the country with great opportunities to develop local ICT capacities if properly implemented.
Although several milestones have been recorded in the last 61 years of independence, this is not yet the case for Nigeria in telecommunications / ICT. Much remains to be done in terms of policy implementation to address the challenges facing the growth of the sector.
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