From Ayodele Samuel, Lagos
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says the figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), at the 4th Quarter 2018, showed contributions of Telecommunications and Information Services to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stood at about N1.9 trillion.
The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta speaking in Lagos, during the Nigerian Telecom Leadership Summit 2019 added that the total investment in the Nigerian telecom industry is currently estimated at $70 billion.
Danbatta speaking on the summit theme – ”Repositioning the Nigerian Telecom Industry for the Future: Prospects and Challenges”, said that the telecom industry was making remarkable contributions to the nation’s GDP as it contributed 9.85 per cent, as at the 4th Quarter of 2018.
He noted that the figures were very impressive and indicative of a very fast-growing and resilient sector of the economy.
According to him, however, no such industry with these characteristics can be sustained over a long period of time without a corresponding injection of more investments.
”Investors, on the other hand, are not attracted to environments where returns are in doubt.
”In a very capital-intensive industry like telecom, investors are looking for both a very friendly investment climate and predictable outcomes.
”They are interested in an environment where the regulator is independent, fair, firm, forthright and where such attributes like professionalism, responsiveness and transparency are part of its core values.
”These are what we are striving to achieve in our regulatory environment in Nigeria.
”But we are not unaware of the daunting tasks ahead. This is why we consider consultations with the stakeholders as a critical success factor in our regulatory mandate,” he said.
The Chairman said the approach of consultations with stakeholders had yielded enormous positive results.
He said that the regulatory body had engaged the Governors forum, collectively and individually, to address some of the challenges, in the areas of multiple taxation, regulations and Right of Way.
According to him, the commission is eagerly looking forward to the review of the ‘Resolution of the National Economic Council on the Right of Way’ issues, as it concerns clearing impediments to the deployment of telecom infrastructure across the country.
”We are also aware of several emerging technologies, which may continue to drive innovations and investments.
”It is our commitment to follow the trends of these developments, so as to leverage on the best regulatory approaches to optimise their potentials for the benefit of Nigeria.
”The leadership of the Nigerian Communications Commission has taken a deep and predictive look at the financial health of our industry and the aspiration of Nigeria in the context of the 4th industrial revolution.
”We have looked at the potentials of emerging technologies, the global
movement and demand for expanded frontiers of availability, accessibility and affordability of all the ICT drivers and enablers of economic growth.
”We have looked at broadband infrastructure and services; the dynamism of growth, among other things, and reached a conclusion that investments are very critical for our future growth,” he said.
Danbatta said that the argument for more investments became more compelling, given that the industry was very capital intensive, with the competition for Foreign Direct Investments becoming fiercer among different nations.
In the keynote address by former minister of communications technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, she lamented that the quality of services outside the major urban cities was not good, urging the industry regulator and the government to more to implement RoW decision agreed by the National Executive Council.
She said an Access Gap study conducted by the former administration when she was a minister showed that Nigeria would require about $14 billion to close the gaps.
Johnson urged that investment should not just be private sector led but should include the public sector and institutional investors. She urged the NCC to see the industry as a digital industry, and should be ahead of the industry and be collaborative and ensure ubiquitous, accessible, affordable and fast infrastructure for all Nigerian irrespective of location.