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'ICT is the new oil in Nigeria'

'ICT is the new oil in Nigeria'

Investments in the Nigerian telecoms sector as at July 2016 has been pegged at US$68-billion at the Nigerian Telecoms Investment Forum held at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Telecom World 2016 hosted recently in Thailand.

It was also revealed at the event, which was meant to draw further foreign investors to the country, that US$35-billion of the said figure comes from Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Further discussions centred on success, strategies and goals for the infusion of ICTs as a tool for national development.

Explaining how Nigeria has grown in 15 years after opening up its telecoms sector from 400,000 connected lines in 2001 to over 150m connected lines and a teledensity of 107% today, the former Secretary General of the ITU and keynote speaker at the Forum, Hamadoun Toure, said:

"When I was in ITU, for five years in a row, Nigeria was ranked number one in mobile growth. If you are number one five times in a row, you must have done something right."

Toure also said that the recorded figures point to the fact that Nigeria is a preferred destination for telecom investors in Africa for its large population, political stability and robust telecom regulatory regime, adding that ICT is the new oil in Nigeria and data transmission is the way to go.

Nigeria's Communications Minister, Adebayo Shittu, assured participants of government support and protection at all times and that the ease of doing business in the country is being improved upon. He encouraged potential investors to renew their confidence in Nigeria.

Shittu added: "We are migrating from resource-based industrialisation and growth to knowledge-based industrialisation and growth which we are sure will certainly take us beyond our imagination."

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) boss, Umar Danbatta, noted that the country's telecom sector has proven to be resilient, stable and therefore contributes an average of between N3b and N4b per quarter.

He said though Nigeria has hit 21% of the 30% coverage target in the National Broadband Plan (NBP 2013 – 2018), investments will be needed for 3G, 4G and to take services to underserved and unserved regions.

Relatedly, the NCC has disclosed that it plans to sanction 13 telcos including Airtel, MTN, Globacom, Ntel and Etisalat for failing to comply with its Do Not Disturb (DND) directives issued on 20 April 2016 following a deluge of complaints it says it received from subscribers about unsolicited text messages and phone calls for telemarketing.

A statement by the NCC Public Affairs Director, Tony Ojobo, says a week ultimatum has been issued from 14 November to remedy the situation or face the sanctions.

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