By Oluwatobi Opusunju and Chinedu James
The Association of Telecoms Company of Nigeria (ATCON) is to partner the Akwa Ibom state government to help create an enabling environment for technology companies in the state. ATCON led by its President, Mr. Olushola Teniola recently met with the Secretary to the State Government of Akwa-Ibom State, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem during a working visit by the association to the oil rich state.
Teniola said the partnership is one of many efforts by ATCON to help build sustainable and enabling environment for telecoms companies to thrive in the country. In Akwa Ibom, ATCON and state government plan to organise an Akwa-Ibom Technology Investment Forum aimed at encouraging development in the state through investment in technology.
Teniola said multiple taxation at all tiers of the government, shutting down of telcos’ base stations by state and local government officials and destruction of masts and towers by vandals are among the challenges hindering investment in the telecoms sector. The same challenges hamper quality of service (QoS) and rollout of broadband infrastructures.
“In Nigeria today, the telecommunications sector is faced with the challenge of multiple taxation. This is not helping the industry to grow as all tiers of government are taxing the sector and the direct resultant effect of this is erosion of profits, which does not encourage further direct investment to the country.
“Also, the record has shown that base stations are shut down by either local government or state government without any prior notice to service providers and this usually accounts for poor quality of telecoms service in Nigeria,” said Teniola.
In response, Dr. Ekuwem who is also a former president of ATCON said he was very pleased to receive the ATCON leadership at such an auspicious time when 10% broadband penetration is equivalent to 1.3 % increase in GDP.
He said the state under the leadership of Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel has been working assiduously to ensure telcos maintain a higher level of maintenance culture so as to prevent the incidence of mast collapse and malfunctioning of base stations in the state.
According to him, the state is planning to connect all the local governments in the state through broadband and internet protocol televisions (IPTVs) to be installed in all government offices to enhance efficiency in the State.
“The focus of the government of Akwa Ibom is to have smart classrooms, smart city and smart cities and the state is currently working on electrification projects called Ibom Power and seven local government are expected to enjoy ‘portable power supply’ in no distant time,” said Ekuwem.
Similarly, the Commissioner for Science and Technology, Professor Nse Udo Essien said the state is fast migrating from a resource based state to a knowledge economy through massive investment in infrastructural facilities that can leapfrog the state to one of the leading states in Nigeria.
“Presently, the state has an innovation hub which is fully funded by the state government and the hub has a total number of twenty six companies.
“The state also has computer laboratories and another ten laboratories are under construction. The state has the biggest e- library and this e-library has over four million subscribers,” said Essien.