The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Telecoms giant, MTN, on Thursday night, cited the telecommunications industry as the major driver of the nation’s economy.
Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, said this in his address entitled, “Telecommunications in Nigeria; The Next Frontier’, to mark the 20th anniversary of the telecommunications revolution in Nigeria.
Danbatta, who was represented by Dr Ike Adinde, Director, Public Affairs, NCC, said that the telecoms sector reforms, engendered by an effective and firm regulatory regime emplaced by the NCC, had expanded availability, accessibility of network and service provisioning.
The telecommunications sector reform, he added, was also accompanied by unprecedented job creation across the industry’s value chain, as more operators were licensed which gave rise to corresponding business opportunities for Nigerians.
He said that the multiplier effects of the services provided by the licensees to other sectors of the economy found expression in the sector’s contribution to the national economy.
He said: “Without any doubt, the sector has become a major driver of economic development, with the sector contributing an all-time-high of 14.42 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter of 2021.
“Through NCC’s continuous commitment to an effective regulatory regime, policies and initiatives to advance telecoms sector growth, millions of Nigerians can now carry out most of their activities electronically in a more efficient manner.
“Today, individuals and corporate entities rely more on digital services to carry out their personal and official activities, a trend that gained greater traction at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant lockdown and restrictions.
“Available data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) clearly shows that telecoms is one of the key sectors that positively reversed Nigeria’s economic fortunes, taking it out of the recession occasioned by the pandemic.”
According to him, indeed, telecommunications has continued to be an enabler in expanding the frontiers of the nation’s economy in the last two decades.
While appraising the two decades of the telecoms revolution, the EVC said that two decades after, the sector had witnessed significant and phenomenal growth in terms of the level of access to voice and data services.
Danbatta said it had become an enabler of growth in other sectors of the country.
It is, therefore, exciting that as of September 2021, the number of active mobile subscriptions in the nation’s telecoms sector stood at 190.8 million, he said.
He added that with teledensity rising from less than one per cent, 20 years ago, to 99.9per cent currently, also, from ground zero in 2001, Internet subscriptions have risen to 140.2 million as of August 2021.
Danbatta said that actual broadband penetration stood at 41 per cent, the equivalent of 78.3 million subscriptions on the Third Generation (3G) and Fourth generations (4G) mobile networks in the country.
He, however, highlighted vandalism, theft, multiple taxations as some of the challenges of the telecoms industry.
Also speaking at the event, Dr Ernest Ndukwe, Chairman, MTN Nigeria, said that the telecommunications industry remained a vital engine for the economy, an essential infrastructure that promotes the development of the economy and reduces risks and rigours.
He said that the Nigerian socio-economic landscape had been greatly transformed thanks to developments in the telecommunications sector in the last two decades.
According to him, the development has had a positive impact on virtually all facets of life in the country – political, social and economic, such that the government’s interface with the citizens is now faster, with family contacts renewed across distant parts and businesses thriving and performing better as a result of their ability to link their customers in new and innovative ways.
Ownership of phones, he noted, now cuts across the various social classes, opening great opportunities for e-government, e-health, e-education, e-security, e-commerce, e-banking and so on.
Ndukwe added that the growth in the telecommunications sector had also resulted in the creation of over 16,000 direct jobs in the sector and several million more are informally employed through the sector.
Today the telecommunications sector is a significant contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria, the MTN chairman said, citing its percentage share of GDP as rising from 0.06% in 1999 to 3.5% in 2011 and still rising further to 9.20 by the third quarter of 2019.