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‘How effective regulations can aid sector’s convergence’

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[FILE PHOTO] NCC Boss, Umar Garba Danbatta

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other stakeholders in the country’s ICT industry have emphasised the need for effective regulations to drive the inevitable convergence in the ICT ecosystem.

They echoed this at the 10th West African Convergence Conference held in Lagos. With a unanimous agreement that several services that were hitherto seen as very different and unrelated are becoming more closely integrated and unified as technology advances, participants also called for efficient government policies to meet current realities.

The event organised by KnowHow Media & Market Intelligence Limited (KMI), brought together decision makers in government and the private sector, entrepreneurs, professionals, investors, and market drivers to chart new courses for development in a converged IT world.

Speaking on the theme of the Conference: ‘Regulations Disruptions Employability Entrepreneurship and Convergence Broadband and Broad Plan’, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, noted that the Convergence of IT, Telecom and Media have come of age and new opportunities and threats are being thrown up.

Danbatta, who was represented by Head, Wireless Networks at NCC, Anthony Ikemefuna, added that existing industries are being disrupted, while new industries are being created and new competencies and skill-sets are required.

“The increasing convergence of the ICT and media industries is a trend that we’ll be watching as it has tremendous implications for the types of services that will be delivered, the ability to connect to new audiences, and even the types of networks built to power the new data-intensive customer demands.

The EVC declared that broadband connectivity and convergence would be difficult to achieve without effective regulation. “Regulations represent a powerful instrument to promote efficiency but their impact depends on good implementation and effective compliance. NCC has over 12 enforceable Regulations for the telecommunication industry and more are being developed to cater for emerging technologies in the sector” he said.

For CEO of Backbone Connectivity Network (BCN), Ibrahim Dikko; and Managing Director of Rack Centre, Tunde Coker, noted that supporting the data ecosystem that exists here would depend on how much of broadband the Nigerian environment can offer. Convergence of technologies and services is imperative on the availability of broadband and right regulations to foster and not impede growth.

The President of Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria, Olusola Teniola, tasked all stakeholders on the need for collaboration among government and private sector players if the new timeline of 70 per cent broadband penetration by 2024 must be met.

He agreed with Dikko and Coker that ‘broadband should be a privilege right’ since broadband is the key vehicle to drive all sorts of growth including converged technologies and services in the 21st century.

Also speaking, Head, Lagos Regional Business office of Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT) Ibiye Ukoko, said with convergence, voice and data services are merging to belong to a single data stream, adding that a single device like mobile phones can handle calls, instant messages, stream television, photography Email, among others.

“Some services are becoming obsolete with convergence however a lot of other opportunities are open to those that can innovate in developing new applications” she said.

In the same vein, the Founder, Ausso Leadership Academy (ALA) Austin Okere, in his keynote presentation at the event, noted that the future of work would be driven by technology.

According to him, a lot of young people now prefer to be entrepreneurs because of the technology enablement. He added that convergence would also change the face of work environment as many would be working from home in silos as opposed to relating and meeting with their co-workers every day.

In his presentation, the Chairman, Qitech Technologies, Dr. Sola Afolabi, said Nigeria’s education system and curricula must be tweaked to reflect the realities of convergence.

According to him, while the role of the academia is to produce goods and services (workers and ideas), their products must meet the need of the industry which is now becoming converged.


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