Barrister Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Communications has asked the private sector in the Nigerian Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry for input into the 2017 National Budget.
The Minister dropped the hint at the 2016 Nigeria ICT Impact CEO Forum held in Lagos urging the private sector to develop the ideas to act as their road-map “as soon as possible” for the ongoing process of preparing the 2017 budget.
“We are in the process of preparing a new budget for 2017 and so if you give me a list of must-dos, be sure I will take it to the Federal Executive Council for its endorsement for purpose of including it in our budget list. Within the next one week, if you come up with something that would have an impact, I will do the needful. So, the ball is in your court. Let me have concrete ideas that so we will make the necessary effort for purpose of financing”, the Minister told attendees at the event.
[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]”We are in the process of preparing a new budget for 2017 and so if you give me a list of must-dos, be sure I will take it to the Federal Executive Council for its endorsement for purpose of including it in our budget list. Within the next one week, if you come up with something that would have an impact, I will do the needful. So, the ball is in your court. Let me have concrete ideas that so we will make the necessary effort for purpose of financing”, the Minister told attendees at the event.[/quote]According to Shittu, “we are here to assist the private sector in Nigeria. I am putting my services at your disposal. Please let us have a roadmap from the point of view of the private sector. It is up to you to let us have what you think should be in place and if you can do that in good time, before the final proposals are endorsed, I can assure you that we will get them included.”
Speaking to journalists on the sideline of the event on the 2016 roadmap presented by the Communications Sector, the Minister says “the roadmap has been formulated”, adding that “all that is required is for the Federal Executive Council to give the nudge to it so that it becomes the National Policy.”
According to the Minister, “I just want to assure that we are very anxious about it and we are determined to get it passed and once it is passed, it becomes the property of the executive.”
Shittu further says his Ministry is commited towards ensuring that the road map visions are actualised.
On his part, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), who delivered a keynote address at the event, says the main pillars upon which the Commission’s 8-point agenda rests are the sufficient use of broadband in achieving the triple As of Availability, Accessibility and Affordability.
The NCC chief, who was represented by Tony Ojobo, the NCC Director Public Affairs at NCC, says the telecoms regulator’s broadband vision is to “provide and optimize access to and use of affordable fixed and mobile broadband everywhere in Nigeria.”
Under the plan, NCC’s “strategy to achieve this is to facilitate and support availability of broadband services by promoting deployments of universally available, fast and reliable network infrastructure that will stimulate seamless broadband penetration to drive technology innovations and over all productivity of the economy.”
According to Danbatta, “one may begin to wonder why we are laying a lot of emphasis to broadband. The reason is not far fetched, and has become a global benchmark for future of economic development of nations and states.”
The NCC EVC says “the World Bank recognises the economic impacts of broadband penetration and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) currently promotes broadband through the Broadband Commission for the benefit of all nations. Recommendations of this Commission make it imperative that any nation that is serious with economic development must address the issue of availability of broadband very seriously.”
According to Danbatta, “the World Bank has told us that with every 10 percent increase in high speed Internet connections, economic growth increases by 1.3 percent. This means that any nation that focuses efforts in broadband penetration will invariably improve its socioeconomic advancement.”
While noting that Nigeria is doing well in ICT generally, Danbatta oberves that “the re-basing of the economy has actually credited ICT with a contribution of more than 10 percent to GDP on annual basis. This figure has continued to grow. In the first quarter of this year, the report of the National Bureau of Statistics indicated that more than N1.4 trillion was generated by the ICT industry in the first quarter of 2016.”
[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]Danbatta believes that measurable strides have been taken and “this means that we are not starting from ground zero. For the past 15 years, the Nigerian telecommunications industry has witnessed accelerated growth. Over this period, the nation has achieved huge subscriber growth in voice telephony. From about 400, 000 in 2001, we have hit 149.8 million active lines as at June 2016 with a tele-density of about 107.1 percent in the same month. Internet access has also grown to about 97 million.”[/quote]For the NCC chief executive, “this is a general indication of how ICT could provide a veritable enabler to the diversification of the economy. When we talk about broadband, we are being guided by the prescriptions of the National Broadband Committee, which has provided for a target of 30 percent penetration by 2018, up from the 10 percent penetration recorded since last year. Current estimates put the penetration to about 13 percent but the implication is that the nation has very little time to achieve the target and probably surpass it.”
Danbatta believes that measurable strides have been taken and “this means that we are not starting from ground zero. For the past 15 years, the Nigerian telecommunications industry has witnessed accelerated growth. Over this period, the nation has achieved huge subscriber growth in voice telephony. From about 400, 000 in 2001, we have hit 149.8 million active lines as at June 2016 with a tele-density of about 107.1 percent in the same month. Internet access has also grown to about 97 million.”
The Nigerian telecoms regulatory chief says that the numbers “are indications that a lot of activities have been taking place in the ICT industry. We can no longer mention any sector of the Nigerian economy without substantial impact of the ICTs. The social media, which affects many and thrives better, with fast speech associated with broadband network, has continued to grow.”
Danbatta who recalled that earlier this year, more than 16 million Nigerians were reported to be active on Facebook, and also, the numbers on Instagram, Twitter and other social media are on the rise, believes that
“ICTs now provide the bedrock for the financial system in Nigeria, positively impacting on the ease and speed of delivery of varieties of services.”
Danbatta says that “government now applies ICT in governance. The education and health sector are not left out. There are many ways that ICT is now applied to agriculture which many has suggested, provides alternatives to the diversification agenda.”
According to him,” with the level of economic activities generated by the ICT sector when we are yet to attain the desired level of growth, it is obvious that the nation’s economy will witness more accelerated growth as the scenario painted with the impact of huge broadband penetration is that of economic empowerment, which will create more employments across board, stimulate economic growth and empower the citizenry while creating a more connected society and activities as envisioned in the new world of Internet of Everything (IoE).”
The NCC boss says further that the Nigerian telecoms regulator is not resting its oars to ensure meeting up with the national aspiration and has therefore embarked on a programme of attracting interests and investments in the sector such that private sector interests will fund this growth with the government providing the enabling environment.
“These are the major content of our efforts in licensing Infrastructure Providers, otherwise called INFRACOs for the different zones of the country. Those for Lagos Zone and North Central Zone of the country have been issued while the remaining five zones are under the works. We have combined these frequencies to enable wireless broadband possibilities”, Danbatta stated, adding that “some of these frequencies were recently issued to one of the major service providers in Nigeria on the 2.6GHz band.”