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Nigeria renews search for broadband investors at global summit


Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu

Nigeria’s desire to meet and surpass next year’s 30 per cent broadband penetration target will be one of the reasons for participating in the 2017 International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Telecoms conference in Busan, South Korea.

The yearly event kicked off today in Busan, 325 kilometers away from Seoul, South Korea and 520 kilometers away from President Kim Jong-Un’s Pyongyang, North Korea.

The 2017 conference, which has its theme as ‘Digital Transformation, Global Opportunity,’ is a unique international platform for influential figures from government and industry to connect with tech SMEs and entrepreneurs, to exhibit and explore partnership solutions, investment opportunities, shared ideas and best practices.

As such, Nigeria, whose delegation is led by the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, through the ‘Nigeria Day’, an investment session which comes up tomorrow at the Nigerian Pavilion, will unveil the benefit of investing in the country to participants put at about 10,000 from across the globe.

Nigeria’s broadband penetration currently wobbles at 21 per cent. A World Bank study on the impact of broadband penetration revealed positive growth on economies. It disclosed that from 0.25 to 1.38 per cent in broadband penetration, there is always a 10 per cent addition to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The broadband penetration drive of Nigeria has been dwarfed by myriads of challenges, including getting the needed investments, financial constraints, economic lull, lack of infrastructure as exhibited by poor last mile connectivity and perceived over regulation of the sector.

The NCC’s Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, noted that the commission would use the conference to woo investors to invest in Nigeria’s broadband plan. He noted that wooing investors into the broadband sector as enshrined in the country’s Five-Year National Broadband Plan (2013 to 2018) requires greater effort, which the ITU platform presents.

Assuring investors, NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, said Nigeria’s robust telecommunications regulatory environment guarantees returns on investment, and the investors’ renewed confidence in the fast growing sector would form part of the country’s narrative at the ITU Telecom World.

According to him, there are over 150 million active subscribers now, Internet connections are over 90 million and teledensity is well over 100 per cent.

“There is over $80 billion invested in the sector so far with over 70 per cent of it as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The investors have never known a better yesterday. So as Nigeria’s delegation berths in Busan, South Korea, the narrative will be endearing as the country beckons on more investors especially in broadband Internet.”

ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao, stressed the need for countries to bridge the digital gap.

Speakers from Nigeria at the forum include Shittu; former Minister of Communications Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson; Danbatta; Executive Secretary, Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission, Yewande Sadiku; Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Co-Creation Hub Nigeria, Bosun Tijani; Director-General, National Information and Technology Development Agency, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, among others.