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• Stakeholders hinge growth on industry’s regulation
Despite the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria’s telecommunications and information services sectors remain the enablers of growth, with N2.3 trillion or 14.30 per cent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution in the second quarter of 2020.
Data available to The Guardian show that the contribution of the sector translates to N2.272 trillion, up from N1.821 trillion in the first quarter of the year.
This, according to figures released by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), indicates an increase of 31.43 per cent.
While the entire Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry recorded 17.83 per cent in the second quarter, the 14.30 per cent contribution of the telecoms sub-sector was unprecedented, far and above oil and gas, and other non-oil sectors’.
Checks showed that, in 2015, telecoms’ contribution to GDP stood at eight per cent and has grown significantly quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year to reach the current milestone of 14.30 per cent.
Meanwhile, industry stakeholders attributed the second quarter contribution of telecoms sector, which represents a leap from the 10.88 per cent in Q1 2020, to the sound regulatory environment enthroned by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The stakeholders, including the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria, (ATCON), Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators (ALTON), and the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), who spoke with The Guardian on the matter, commended the regulatory framework driving the digital frontiers in the last five years.
The ALTON Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo, thanked all industry players for their resilience and consistency of purpose.
Adebayo hinged the growth on so many factors including the investor friendly policy and regulatory environment championed by the leadership of NCC, commitment of all stakeholders, consistent investment on network maintenance and expansion, and sacrifice by sector operators.
To sustain this growth, the ALTON Chairman said the country should continue to invest in network expansion and maintenance operations, access to foreign exchange to procure network critical equipment, consistency in policy and policy environment.
Adebayo said there should be access to spectrum and friendly policies around its allocation, assignment and cooperation between the stakeholders.
ATCON President, Olusola Teniola, said: “telecoms industry has remained bullish owing to the quality of leadership at the helm of affairs at the Commission.”
He added that NCC had become reference point in telecoms regulatory ecosystem in Africa and beyond.
In the same vein, President of National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS) Adeolu Ogunbajo, said the proactive regulatory approach of Danbatta has helped made telecoms “the oxygen that keeps economic activities afloat during the lockdowns and consumers are appreciative of the fact that the Commission, working with its supervising Ministry, didn’t allow consumer to suffer serious disruption to quality of service and quality of experience.”
Checks showed that effective regulatory regime, backed by various initiatives of the Commission and efforts of the supervising Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy at addressing industry challenges, is providing the needed digital valves that have supported the economy from collapse, since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The increase in broadband penetration, Internet usage, number of access to telephone and several other initiatives by the Commission, especially in the areas of driving tech innovations, employment creation, promotion of digital inclusiveness, which are policy directions of NCC, an industry regulator, have, in the last five years, boosted the sector’s contribution to GDP.
These policy activities have also enhanced growth of digital-based activities across other sectors of economy increasing efficiency and effectiveness in economic operations.
Speaking recently at the Commission’s first virtual telecoms consumer parliament (VTCP), the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, noted that the NCC, ensured has always been innovative and proactive in its regulatory activities by ensuring that the economy remains afloat despite the restrictions occasioned by the pandemic.