- NCC unwinds plans for ITU World 2016
By OLUWATOBI OPUSUNJU
More than $35b have been invested in the telecommunications industry through Foreign Direct Investments in the last 15 years; the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has revealed in Lagos during a one day Stakeholders Forum for ITU Telecom World 2016 scheduled to hold later this year in Bangkok, Thailand.
The Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta said the telecoms sector in the past years had recorded significant growth as it moved from below 500,000 active lines to the current 157 million active lines. Growth has been underscored by massive foreign inflow of investment. The attraction has remained for most investors despite the country’s current economic challenges.
Large market and progressive regulation by the NCC has impacted positively on the sector. According Danbatta, the country has surpassed the 100 percent threshold for teledensity as it stands at 107%, while internet connectivity rose to 50,000 in 2001 to its current 97 million.
But the country can do more, the regulator argues and believes events such as the ITU Telecom World offers high prospect to share the country’s investment potential and tell the world Africa’s most populous countries remains great destination for high returns on investments(RoIs).
ITU Telecom World holds from November 14-17 in Bangkok, Thailand. The theme of this year’s event is “Collaborating in the Digital Economy.’ However, Nigeria will be adopting thetheme ‘Smart Communities: The Key to a Digital Nigeria.’
“Several investors have been here and many more are on their way .We will tell them that Nigeria is safe for investors and Return on Investments (RoI) is assured. We will tell them that our regulatory processes are open, effective and transparent,” said Danbatta.
“We will also tell the would be investors that the regulator has ensured it conducts its business according to international best practices and standards and also regulations that guide smooth operations in the sector are available,” he added.
For Danbatta, benefits of having more investments in the country underscore the gaps which existing investors need to bridge. His words: “As we speak, we have 14% penetration and over 100 percent thirst for internet. We are convinced that by 2018, the anticipated 30% penetration is not impossible to achieve. The quality of service is not robust yet, but we are assured that we will get it right with more investments.
Also speaking at the Forum, MD/CEO for NIGCOMSAT, Ms. Abimbola Alale urged stakeholders to attend the ITU Telecoms World 2016 in order to attract foreign investors to do business in the country. She said: “The engine of the economy lies in the private sector and we as stakeholders need to access that opportunity.”