Speaking at the official opening of Nigeria Pavilion @ ITU Telecom World 2017 – Busan, South Korea ,the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, told foreign investors to take advantage of the country’s huge population saying that with a population of about 170 million, Nigeria is a preferred investment destination in Africa.
According to him, “With over 150 million active subscribers, in the voice segment, over 102 percent teledensity and a little over 92 million internet connections, Nigeria is indeed a place to invest.”
Pointing out that the country had made very modest progress in the sector, Prof. Danbatta added that the country still needed to deepen investments to make broadband pervasive in the country.
“We are at 21 percent now and our target is to hit 30 percent by 2018, consistent with the National Broadband Plan,” he said.
The NCC boss disclosed that in 16 years since the Digital Mobile Licences (DML) were issued, investment in the sector has hit about $70Billion from a mere $50million in 2001adding that most of the investments are Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).
While noting that different people come with different notions to ITU Telecom World, Prof Danbatta stated that “the end result is to better serve our people, deploy resources to address access gaps in underserved and unserved communities in our various jurisdictions.
“We come to the ITU Telecom World every year to tell our story, share our experiences and borrow a leaf from global best practices to address our concerns, engage and collaborate with the global community to strengthen the growth and impact of the Nigerian Telecoms Industry.
“We therefore come to enlist the support of other players, governments, regulators and the global community from whom there is always a basket of ideas to take back home to Nigeria. The implementation of these ideas will ensure a better regulatory environment, even though ours has been seen as a very robust and consultative regulatory agency right from 2001 when the Digital Mobile Licences (DML) were issued.”
He further stated that Nigeria’s engagement with the global community during this event will include creating awareness of the investment opportunities in Africa’s biggest Telecom market, as well as guarantee of adequate Returns on Investments (RoIs).
He assured his audience, that as a foremost regulator, the NCC has put in place measures and guidelines to license wholesale broadband service providers consistent with the Open Access Model for broadband deployment.
“In our firm resolve to strengthen institutions of corporate governance for telcos, woo investors and guarantee returns on their investments, the NCC, in consultation with industry stakeholders introduced a mandatory Code of Corporate Governance as guide to managers and boards of telecommunications companies. The code outlines minimum global best practices covering processes, procedures and general corporate behaviour for telecommunications industry players,” he said.
Speaking on some of the available opportunities in the sector, Prof. Danbatta said that of the seven infrastructure companies (Infracos) earmarked for licensing, only two have so far been licensed for Lagos which is commercial hub of Nigeria, and Abuja including the North Central zone of the country leaving five more licences for the South West, South East, South South, North East and North West zones of the country. The process of licensing of infracos for these five remaining zones is about to be concluded.
“When we rolled out the 8-point agenda in 2016, it was predicated on the change mantra of the new democratic government in Nigeria led by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR. It is premised on facilitating broadband penetration, improving quality of service, optimizing usage and benefits of spectrum, promoting ICT investment and innovation, facilitating strategic partnership, promoting fair and inclusive growth and ensuring regulatory excellence and operational efficiency. Because we recognize the importance of ICT to national development that is why growing this sector has been top on our agenda. Hence, ladies and gentlemen, permit me to say that despite our modest achievements, Nigeria ICT sector is work in progress,” he said.