Investment in Telecoms Sector Now $12 Billion, Says Nigerian President Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan last week said the liberalisation of telecommunication operations in the country has harvested a massive inflow of investment in the sector from $50 million in 2000 to over $12 billion in the last ten years.
The President in a speech presented on his behalf by Vice President Namadi Sambo to declare open the 3rd Ordinary Session of the African Union of Communication and Information Technologies Ministerial conference in Abuja, said there was no doubt that appreciable progress had been made by Africa in telecommunication development with the achievement of over 350 million mobile phone users and 86 million internet users in the last five years.
"In Nigeria, telecom liberalisation has allowed for massive inflow of investment in the sector from $50 million in 2000 to over $12 billion as at present. The total tele-density has risen phenomenally to 56.32 per 100 inhabitants
"Appreciable progress has been made in our continent in this regard with the achievement of over 350 million mobile phone users and internet users in the last five years," he said.
However despite this remarkable feat, Jonathan said there was still a lot the continent needs to do to bridge the knowledge and technology gap between it and the rest of the developed world if it must achieve rapid and sustained economic, social and human development .
"Our information and communication technology strategies and policies as well as regulatory frameworks still need to be harmonised to enable us reap the full benefits of this development," he said.
He told the gathering comprising delegates from African Union member countries that the next focus must be the development and application of broadband and improvement in internet services to accelerate development in areas of national security, e-governance, tele-medicine, public safety and education.
Speaking on the progress recorded by Nigeria in the telecommunication development, the President said the sector has witnessed phenomenal growth and expansion and has generated employment for million of Nigerians while promoting businesses and services with improved efficiency and productivity.
Apart from the establishment of software development centres and information technology parks which is being piloted by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), he said federal government has also set up internet exchange point project to ensure broader internet penetration to all parts of Nigeria.
According to Jonathan, federal government is completed plans to re-launch the country's communication satellite , NIGCOMSAT -1 in January next year, having corrected the technical problem experienced in the first launch.
He said government is also deploying ICT to boost Postal service operations in conformity to International Postal and Financial Systems, adding that the postal service sector would liberalized to open it up to private participation and inflow of capital and innovative ideas.
The African Union Commission which was represented by the Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Dr. Elham M. A. Ibrahim, said underdevelopment and insufficiency of infrastructure in the continent are found as major problems and barriers for economic and social development in most countries of Africa.
She noted that efficient telecommunications, postal and broadcasting systems and services are the pre-requisites and essential ingredients needed to attain development objectives in all sectors of activities.
She said the conference will focus on the evaluation of most of the items contained in the framework adopted at the last meeting of the Ministers in Cairo, Egypt in 2008 which sought for the harmonization of ICT policies and regulations in Africa.
According to AU, the continent would in the next two years be focusing on the implementation of the programme of transition from analog to digital in the broadcasting sector.
Earlier, the Minister of Information and Communication, Prof. Dora Akunyili while welcoming the African Ministers to the event, said Nigeria along with Kenya ,Zambia, Chad and Egypt was mandated in 2008 by the conference to implement a harmonized ICT policies and regulatory frameworks to address the developmental challenges and promote accelerated development of telecom infrastructure in the continent.