Wednesday , December 1 2021

ICT Stakeholders Charge FG on Telecoms Infrastructure Funding

Owing to the advent of digital transformation and new normal nationwide, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) stakeholders have frowned at the federal government exclusion in its 15trillion infrastructure funding.

According to them, government effort to diversify the economy won’t be actualized except the ICT industry is considered in its infrastructure funding initiatives.

Recall last month, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced plans to establish N15 trillion infrastructure development company.

According to the apex bank, the company will use local and international funding for the rebuilding and financing of critical infrastructure across the country for an initial period of five years.

IT Stakeholders made this assertion yesterday at Sectoral Virtual Forum 2020, organized by the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) on “Meeting the Interests of Government, Consumers and Telecoms Companies in the Era of Covid-19 and Post Covid-19 Pandemic for Digital Economy Development”,

Speaking at the virtual forum, the Chief Executive Officier of Medallion Communications, Engr Ikechukwu Nnamani stressed that it is quite unfortunate that FG concentrates the N15trillion into building transportation infrastructure, leaving the telecom sector, which is presently contributing 10.88 percent to the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

He noted that for the country working towards having a digital economy, operators in the telecom industry must get the right mix of funding to build telecom infrastructure that the economy can ride on.

Nnamani stated that giving 30% of the 15 trillion intervention fund would positively help to improve the quality of telecommunications services in the country while consumers will enjoy reduced price rate.

In the same vein, the Pan African Towers Boss, Wole Abu agreed with Nnamani position on FG’s need to fund Nigerian’s digital infrastructure.

According to him, infrastructure for access and cybersecurity in Nigeria is very small and this calls for huge investments.

“Deployment of infrastructure is all about the size of investments, ease of doing business, the access, cost and protection of capital.

“There is no way the sector can move forward without investments and long term infrastructure deployed.”

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He said, there is need for Nigeria to set up an infrastructure fund for the telecom companies and sector.

Intensive Capital will not bring down the price of telecom services, clamored for by the consumers.

The cycle time to get investment based on today’s credit rating is very far. This industry has not been whitelisted for hard currency. CBN needs to understand that digital transformation can not be left alone for NCC, NITDA and the other statutory bodies.

“Getting 30% of the fund which is 5 trillion will accelerate the industry infrastructure deployment,” Abu emphasized.

Abu also tasked the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to help push for the implementation of the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) for the telecoms sector.

Speaking on this, ATCON President, Olusola Teniola revealed that in the NBP 2020-2025, the committee is currently interacting with World Bank on funding and incentives.

Teniola, however, noted that there is a need for stakeholders’ engagement involving the private sector in order to address some of the core industry challenges in the country.

“We know where we are as players in the industry and without the right funding, some of the challenges in terms of connectivity, coverage, and access cannot be thrashed out. Currently, the industry is in need of 80,000 towers.” Teniola said.

About Bukola Olanrewaju

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