..With Over 212.2 Million Active Subscribers
Nigeria’s telecommunications industry has maintained a growth trajectory surpassing investment forecasts as well as registering volume telecom subscribers.
Currently it is estimated that investment in the sector has surpassed $70 billion from less than $500 million investment in 2001.
The Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta in his keynote address at the 2nd International Conference of the Association of Media and Communications Researchers of Nigeria (AMCRON), disclosed that active telecom subscribers have grown significantly to 212.2 million from about 400,000 aggregate telephone lines in the country as of 2000, on the eve of liberalisation.
This represents a teledensity of 111 per cent, while Basic Internet subscriptions grew from zero ground to 152.7 million currently while broadband subscriptions stand at over 86 million, representing a 45.09 per cent penetration as of July 2022.
Danbatta, who was represnted by the NCC’s Director, Research and Development, Ismail Adedigba, added that the industry has also become a major contributor to the national economy with the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry contributing 18.94 per cent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as of the second quarter of 2022, according to the latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
From this, the telecommunications sector alone contributed 15 per cent to GDP.
He said, “The ICT contribution to GDP is, by far, the second largest contributor to the national economy aside from the agricultural sector. From less than $500 million investment in 2001, the investment profile in the nation’s telecommunications sector has also surpassed $70 billion. The telecommunication sector has also created direct and indirect jobs for millions of Nigerians to date.
“With all these indices of growth in the telecom sector, arising from the effective implementation of various telecommunication policies and strategy documents, the sector has continued to redefine the way we carry out our operational and professional activities with greater efficiency and effectiveness. Access to the Internet, and more importantly, broadband, has become very central to our official and personal lives.”
Continuing Danbatta said, “Be it in the media, education, finance, healthcare, transport, governance etc., broadband access has become a necessity. If you think of how the Internet has impacted the process of news gathering, production and dissemination by media professionals and the convergence being experienced across media platforms, then, it won’t be difficult to appreciate the impact of telecom, and by implication, the role of policies, across the spectrum of our daily lives, as individuals and as a nation. The digital revolution now has a profound impression on the way we function as a nation.”
Danbatta further noted that there is no gainsaying the fact that modern media and communications systems are taking on a whole new life and have caused growth in the flow and pattern of information and interpersonal communications (Interactivity). The venue of this event, which is virtual via Zoom is the strongest point in explaining the degree of the digital revolution in Nigeria.
According to the EVC, the telecom industry has recorded tremendous growth in all segments of the market, witnessing quite impressive statistics which points to how telecommunications policy and decisions of the government have continued to influence the growth of Nigeria’s digital revolution marked by positive multiplier effects on other sectors of the economy.
Danbatta, informed that the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003, which is the primary regulatory instrument for the telecommunications sector and is now being considered for a review considering the rapid developments in the digital space, provides a firmer foundation upon which the telecom sector rode to prominence and impact in the last 22 years.
He recalled that between 2001 and now, Nigeria emplaced several forward-looking policy and regulatory initiatives that have consistently put Nigeria on the path of digital innovation and growth.
Danbatta said, “In specific terms, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020 – 2030, is a major policy driving the digital revolution in Nigeria.
The NDEPS, combined with other policy documents, strategies, regulations, guidelines and directions, developed by NCC, facilitated the implementation of the Commission’s mandate. Other policy strategies include the National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025, the National Policy on 5G Networks for Nigeria’s Digital Economy, Commission’s ongoing Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024, and the Strategic Vision Plan 2021-2025 (otherwise called SVP II, and sequel to the Eight-point Agenda which was implemented from 2015-2020).
The SVP II is indeed an intentional, conscious, and dedicated effort by the Management of NCC to streamline the telecom component of key policy vision of the Federal Government (including the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan) towards a more strategic and measurable implementation.”
The Commission, he remarked has championed the implementation of these policies on digital access and connectivity through various initiatives and regulatory interventions to ensure that more Nigerians have access to digital services that are affordable.
According to him, the NDEPS 2020 – 2030 spindles around eight pillars to accelerate the development of a digital economy in Nigeria and they include, Developmental Regulation (effective regulation of the ICT and digital sector in a way that enables and enhances development), Digital Literacy and Skills (providing policy backing for massive training of Nigerians from all works of life to enable them to obtain digital literacy and other digital skills), Solid Infrastructure (deployment of fixed and mobile infrastructure to deepen the broadband penetration in the country) and Service Infrastructure (support for Government Digital Services and the provision of robust digital platforms to drive the digital economy).
Others are Soft Infrastructure (strengthening public confidence in the use of digital technologies and participation in the digital economy), Digital Services Development and Promotion (development of a vibrant digital ecosystem that supports Innovation Driven Enterprises (IDE) and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in a way that engenders innovation), Digital Society and Emerging Technologies (focus on tying the development of the digital economy to indices of well-being in the lives of ordinary citizens; mentoring startups on emerging technologies to enable them to deploy their solutions) and Indigenous Content Development and Adoption (provision of a policy framework that gives preference to digitally skilled Nigerians for government-funded projects in line with Executive Orders 003 and 005 of President Muhammadu Buhari).
He also informed the conference that NCC, in line with its commitment to regulatory excellence, has relentlessly pursued the implementation of NDEPS to achieve the objectives of the Federal Government.
Among these objectives are: Target 70% broadband penetration in 4 years, accelerate the digitalization of government processes and improve service delivery, transparency, and accountability, improve trust, confidence and security around digital processes and activities, attract and grow digital jobs across all sectors of the economy and develop the technology start-up ecosystem by actively promoting innovation and entrepreneurship,
The rest are support the digital literacy of Nigerian Citizens, Business and Government workers and enable them to acquire cutting-edge digital skills, achieve a 95% Digital Literacy Level in Nigeria within the next 10 years, develop a digital education curriculum to meet the current and future needs of the Digital Economy, ensure that indigenous technology companies can participate actively in government-funded technology programmes; and ensure that the policy and regulatory instruments are fit-for-purpose and support the digital business environment.
He enthusiastically added that the implementation of these policies and strategies by the Commission and other stakeholders has resulted in the impressive growth of the economy going to impressive statistics posted by the telecommunications sector.