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NCC’s Danbatta wants more from ICT industry

Nigeria’s ICT industry has consistently contributed over 10% towards the West African country’s GDP over ten years, but there is more to be gained from increasing the speed and coverage of internet connectivity.

This is according to Prof Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), who added that telecommunications alone contributed 12.45% to the GDP as of Q4 2020.

Danbatta disclosed the figures while delivering a lecture hosted recently and based on a paper titled Empowering the Nigerian youth through Information and Communications Technology.

The paper highlights the increasing adoption and the impact of ICT in Nigeria - and how this industry helps with job creation, youth empowerment and overall socio-economic development.

According to Danbatta, Nigeria accounts for 82% of Africa’s ICT market and 29% of the continent’s internet usage.

The NCC head said the organisation envisages internet connectivity speed of 10Mbps in rural areas and 25 Mbps in urban areas by 2025, with effective internet connectivity made available for at least 90% of the population. This, he said, should cost no more than N390 (US$0.95) per gigabyte of data.

As to the rate of contribution by ICT towards the GDP, Babatunde Abagun, Channel Manager West, East and Central Africa at Nutanix, is hardly surprised.

“Well it’s not particularly new to me, though I have always felt surprised that telecom’s fractional contribution to Nigeria’s GDP has not been incremental in lockstep with huge developments in the telecom tech space in the last ten years,” said Abagun. “One would expect that innovations like 5G, edge computing, managed services, and even the advent of Fintech (and more telcos playing in this space with the likes of mobile money projects etc.) would lead to an incremental contribution towards GDP.”

This expectation is being driven by the high cost of data in Africa in comparison with global counterparts.

Abagun said that aside from privacy concerns, an increase in data value globally “naturally puts the telecom industry at an advantageous position with its ‘untethered’ access to data.”

“So not really (surprised about) new statistics, but surprising that we are not gleaning more. I expect telecom's contribution to increase within the next half-decade.”

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