The Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta,has dislosed that investment in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector in Nigeria has hit $70 billion.
Prof. Danbatta stated this on Wednesday at the on-going International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecom World 2017 in Busan, South Korea.
According to him, in 16 years since the Digital Mobile Licences (DML) were issued, investment in the sector has hit about $70 billion from a mere $50 million in 2001.
“Most of these investments are foreign direct investments (FDIs). Although we have made very modest progress in the sector, we still need to deepen investments to make broadband pervasive in the country. “We are at 21 per cent now and our target is to hit 30 per cent by 2018, consistent with the National Broadband Plan,” Danbatta said.
He noted that Nigeria, with a population of about 170 million, was a preferred investment destination in Africa.
The EVC said with over 150 million active subscribers in the voice segment, over 102 per cent teledensity and a little over 92 million internet connections, Nigeria is, indeed, a place to invest.
Danbatta told the investors the story of how NCC, in collaboration with Nigeria’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), prevented a takeover bid for a telecommunication company by a consortium of banks.
According to him, banks are not competent to run telecom companies, they should concentrate their efforts in making the financial sector more robust.
“This company is now rebranded as 9Mobile and is providing services to over 20 million Nigerians. Nigerians are on the payroll of the company.
“The message we are sending out to investors is that in NCC we are always committed to ensuring stability in the telecom sector of Nigeria as well as making sure the safety of the investment is guaranteed,” he said.
NCC assured investors that its doors were open and would do whatever is within the regulatory mandate to ensure that their investment is safe and secure.
“The ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for sustainable development recently said Nigeria now had about 21 per cent broadband penetration.
“And conscious of the reality that broadband fuels faster data transmission speed and capacity, our focus now is on how we can attract the right investments to grow this critical area of the sector through broadband coverage expansion.
“NCC has put in place measures and guidelines to licence wholesale broadband service providers consistent with the Open Access Model for broadband deployment.
“Of the seven infrastructure companies (Infracos) earmarked for licensing, only two have so far been licensed for Lagos and Abuja. The process of licensing of infracos for the five remaining zones is about to be concluded,” he said.
According to him, Nigeria comes to telecom world to address its concerns, engage and collaborate with the global community to strengthen the growth and impact of the Nigerian telecoms industry.
He said: “We, therefore, come to enlist the support of other players, governments, regulators and the global community from whom there is always a basket of ideas to take back home to Nigeria.
“The implementation of these ideas will ensure a better regulatory environment, even though ours have been seen as a very robust and consultative regulatory agency right from 2001, when the DML were issued.
“The spirit of cooperation and consultation is very high at ITU Telecom World events.”
He said that NCC’s engagement with the global community during the event was to create awareness of the investment opportunities in Nigeria’s telecommunications market, as well as guarantee of adequate returns on investments (RoIs).
Others who spoke at the investment forum include a former Minister of Communications, Mrs Omobola Johnson, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), Ms Yewande Sadiku and the ITU scribe, Mr Zhao.