The Association of Telecommunications Companies in Nigeria, ATCON, says Nigeria requires over N15 trillion to bridge the infrastructure funding gap for the telecom/ICT industry.
The President of the Association, Mr. Ikechukwu Nnamani, disclosed this Thursday when he led other newly elected National Executive Council of the Association on a familiarization visit to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), in his office in Abuja.
He said that the visit was predicated on the need to introduce and familiarize with the minister, who had shown a lot of commitment and determination in addressing issues that the ICT industry is saddled with and to deliberate with the Minister on key issues affecting the industry and the economy.
Nnamani, who commended the Minister for his loadable initiatives that have brought unprecedented growth to the industry, urged the Minister to do more in ensuring that the digital infrastructure gaps are closed and to enable the country to tap into the huge benefits of the digital economy.
The ATCON President further explained that the primary objective of the association targeted programs is to compliment the concerted efforts of the Ministry in respect of making broadband pervasive and ubiquitous as well as to encourage state governments and private sector to aid the growth and development through strategic investment in technology and broadband in their respective states.
He said: ‘‘your timely intervention has led to the growth and development that the ICT sector has witnessed since you were sworn in as minister.
‘‘This visited as put together to demonstrate the respect that we have for you and your office as records are there to show that the development of the sector is highly paramount in your strategic plans. Challenges that have plagued the industry for a very long time are now being addressed by you and your team. Notable among this is the progress made in the National Identity Number (NIN), Right of Way (RoW) and the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), and digitization of the economy.
‘‘More recent is the groundbreaking of the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre in Abuja. The new NEC and the entire ATCON members are poised to work with you and your ministry to make your tenure a highly remarkable one in the history of the Nigerian telecom and ICT sector.
‘‘The primary and strategic objective of our targeted programs is to compliment your concerted efforts in respect of making broadband pervasive and ubiquitous as well as to encourage state governments and private sector to aid the growth and development through their deliberate and strategic investment in technology and broadband in their respective states.
‘‘ We remain committed to contributing our quota to the growth and development of the country and looking forward towards working closely with you.’’
He listed some of the ATCON’s goals and request for support for 2021/2022 as full implementation of the 2020-2025 NNBP; development of the strategic plan to bridge the over N15 trillion infrastructure funding gap for the telecom/ICT industry; full implementation of the RoW Policy and to address multiple taxations and other regulatory challenges.
The ATCON was formally inaugurated on December 10, 1993, as a professional, non-profit, non-political umbrella organization of telecommunications companies in Nigeria.
Responding, the Minister said his ministry decided to reactivate the NIMC Act on NIN after many years of neglect because it remains key to our national planning, budget planning, security and social development and many more.
He insisted that the NIN remains mandatory and the primary means of the identity of our citizens and all legal residents and there’s no other identity that can define citizens more than that number, it is mandatory.
‘‘I’m excited at your presentation why the Association was established and your willingness to join hand with the federal government of Nigeria through the office of the Minister in charge of Communications, most importantly in the area of NIN which is a mandatory number based on NIMC Act of 2007 that has actively been neglected for years it is also the foundational ID for building a digital economy.
‘‘It is key to our national planning, budget planning, national planning, security and social development, and many more. But it was neglected to be a mandatory one. So, we’ve come up with so many policies trying to ensure our citizens obtain the number, it is important beyond sim registration, it is important for whatever you do.
‘‘Because it is the primary identity of our citizens, there’s no identity that will define you are a citizen more than that number, it is mandatory. And it is mandatory for the transaction, as an opening bank account, like paying tax, voter registration, and many more.
‘‘If you look at section 27 it is clearly stated even to partake and enjoy government services without that number it is an offence, you must obtain before you engage the government in any business.
Section 29 of the act says that if you fail to do that and you do transactions you have committed a crime that will lead to imprisonment.
‘‘We will always ensure that citizens obtain it, the law only gives you 60 days to obtain from the time it was approved.
‘‘On achievement on RoW, as I earlier said, when there is any lack of compliance with our agreement through Nigerian Governor’s Forum under the chairmanship of the governor of Ekiti state when there is such let me know I will engage the Nigerian governor’s forum and National Economic Council, don’t compromise. If you compromise in one state there is a high probability you will compromise in another state, but if you resist it is better for us.
‘‘I don’t believe in one-man business, we are all stakeholders and we must work together for the success of the industry. I can’t do it alone and I can never deceive myself that I can do it alone. It is because of this I always urge stakeholders to let us work together to undo the best we can to take the sector to greater heights. most probably it is the most important sector in the country, it could be the most important.
‘‘Our contribution to the GDP is always unprecedented, we are making a huge difference. Just ICT alone not to talk of the digital economy, if you add ICT sector plus digital services then definitely there is no doubt that no sector will contribute half of what we’ve been contributing to the GDP.
But today and some of them are neglected, not computed, some of them are added to financial services but they are supposed to be under digital economy so, that it will be digital economy plus ICT sector. We will try to ensure that it is corrected.’’