Telecommunication sector impacts economy by 90%, creates jobs
By Oluwatosin Areo
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Rack Centre, Ayotunde Coker, has said that Nigeria’s Information Communications Technology (ICT) sector contributes 12 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but has 90 per cent impact on the economy. This, according to him, is because ICT enables every aspect of the economy.
Coker, who said an unreliable telecoms infrastructure would result in an unreliable economy, added that Nigeria can hit global competitiveness if the tech ecosystem, data centres and interconnectivity infrastructure are in place.
Speaking during a media chat on challenges in the industry and the way forward, he noted that easy access to funds would boost efficient investment in deploying technology infrastructure across the country.
He urged key players in the industry to be resilient in the face of multiple challenges. According to him, significant innovations can be achieved if the right proportion of determination is channeled.
“The potential scale in Africa is huge, but many aren’t realised yet but this is where the dynamics actually shows that we are there,” he stated.
On electronic voting, Coker said having the right type of biometric in place will enable it, adding that it could be done even without 4G technology. He added that electronic voting will take democracy to another level.
“The amount of data you need to go through the voter’s validation process is not huge. You could do that with 3.5G for instance. You don’t need 4G LTE.
“If you get infrastructure right then every other thing will work. You can’t create tech hubs, co-creation hub and tech villages without the underlining factor of infrastructure at the right price. If you push out infrastructure now, in a couple of years with the right determination you will get it right. The fundamental biometrics is the finger print, so there are technologies and they are being looked at but the thing is the determination to make sure that it is actually put in place.”
For Return on Investment (ROI), and industry growth, Coker advised that Right of Way (ROW), be eliminated.
“In our country, you have to import these technologies, and we pay customs duties of all kind depending on what aspect of it. There are two things, you are either going to price uncompetitive or you take margin cut. It is important that we make a fair margin on our investment. The fact is that you have to pay off your investment to be able to reinvest in the future. If you don’t get the ROIs, you can’t grow the technology fundamentals base,” he added.
Advising the government, he said they should give incentives that attract fibre services rather than imposing multiple charges that discourage investors.
Coker said: “in emerging economies, it is actually about 2 to 2.5 per cent, and that depends on the broadband penetration level. But when you speak to the carriers, some states still want to charge fees for ROW.
“The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) and Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) said they have made some changes and reached the standard ROW rate but I would rather educate the governors to attract fibre services by giving incentive to these companies.
This will bring more industries and about 1.5 per cent GDP for the state. They need to think strategically for the good of the state, even after their tenure.”
He stressed that Nigerians have young tech talent with the right market place and called for active involvement in politics.
“Do you know the involvement of the youth now is to vote? Some states just wait for federal allocation and still complain that it is not sufficient to pay the minimum wage. The way to decide the best set of leaders is voting right. When people become governors, and they know that if they don’t deliver they will be voted out, they will ask business people what they need to do to deliver. That is why it is democracy that is going to transform the states and the economy.
“If they don’t have the money, then use innovative ways of crowd funding and we have begun to see the use of social media and a lot interconnected network to reach out to people. Whatever you are doing when it comes to election get involved in whatever area of commerce that are you in,” he added.
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