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Stakeholders urge government to end telecoms sector’s woes

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• As Telcos add 1.14m new subscribers to network
Telecommunications stakeholders have urged President, Muhammadu Buhari to prioritise the sector in the next four years of his administration.The plea comes as operators started the New Year on an upward swing, adding about 1.14 million new subscribers to the network.

While congratulating them on their re-election, the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari, and Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to eradicate multiple taxes plaguing the sector.

Adebayo urged the incoming regime to declare telecoms as a critical national economic and security infrastructure, stressing that the industry required the highest level of protection from the government.

On his part, the Director-General, Delta State Innovation Hub (DSHuB), Chris Uwaje, said ICT, which currently contributes more than 10 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP) remains perhaps the best accelerator, assurance and trustworthy strategy for the creation of massive wealth for Nigeria.

“Every leader can always be convinced and encouraged to listen to viable alternatives, embrace innovation and new directions that lead to change dynamics for national development. This is instructive, strategic and required especially when the concept creates more effective and productive ways to deliver sustainable development,” he stated.

Uwaje noted that for the records, President Muhamadu Buhari remains the only Nigerian President, who has graced the e-Nigeria IT event, consecutively for three years of his four-year tenure as a civilian President.

“Not only that, under his watch, Executive Orders on innovation and patronage of ICT local content were issued for implementation. Has IT failed in Nigeria in spite of the over 10 per cent GDP growth? Or has the professional failed to innovate and positively disrupt the ecosystem?

Why is a national IT Baseline study blueprint not in existence in Nigeria? There are currently more questions than functional answers!”

To Kehinde Aluko, another telecoms expert, Prof. Osinbajo should encourage more youths to go into innovation, which is the future.

Aluko, who charged the government to move from analogue system of doing things and embrace digitisation, also urged the incoming regime to take a cue from other advanced economies and replicate some of “those beautiful things in Nigeria.”

According to him, Nigeria needs to move higher up the global value chain and “this means nurturing our own R&D talent and capabilities. Technological progress and innovation plays a central role in a country’s economic progress. In this regard, the clarion call for the nation to focus on innovation and creativity should be heeded and immediate action taken, by all sectors, especially ICT.”

Meanwhile, the new subscribers’ statistics released yesterday by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), showed that subscriptions in the country climbed from 172.9 million in December 2018, to 174 million by January end.

The growth impacted on Nigeria’s teledensity, which increased by 0.81 per cent. As at December, the teledensity was 123.4 per cent but by January ending, climbed to 124.3 per cent.

Expectedly, MTN remains the market leader with 38.4 per cent share and 66.7 million subscribers. As at the period under review, Globacom is still second, with 45.6 million customers and 26.3 per cent.

Airtel with 44.9 million subscribers, controlled 25.9 per cent market share by January end. 9Mobile had 16.4 million subscribers and 9.44 per cent market share.

Internet subscription also appreciated; the quartet of MTN, Globacom, Airtel and Globacom added got 2.24 million more subscriptions.

Subscriptions grew from 111.6 million as at the end of last year to 113.9 million in January.

Broadband penetration leaped slightly, gaining 0.86 per cent within the period under review.


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