Improved broadband penetration has the potential of creating wealth and unlocking huge opportunities for millions of Nigerians while accelerating the nation’s economic development. Making this charge at a telecom conference organised by global giants, Nokia Networks in Lagos, Leo Stan Ekeh, Chairman of Zinox Group, noted that enhanced broadband access will equip majority of Nigerians with the freedom to succeed in today’s digital society.
“With increased deployment of broadband and more equitable access for the majority, huge opportunities will be created for self-development in the country. Just consider the effect this will have on the cost of doing business and the unlimited resources it will place at our disposal. Presently, a lot of people do not see these opportunities due to the current infrastructural challenges being faced in the sector and the slow pace of Information Communications Technology (ICT) uptake in Nigeria,” he said.
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Speaking further, Ekeh, who was chairman of the conference, said Nigeria’s population and cultural realities make the country a potentially lucrative market for broadband deployment, while calling for a synergy of the government and the private sector in making this a reality.
“We must up the tempo because the market is a very huge one. The digital divide must be bridged and access must become a basic human right for everyone in this country. Government has a critical role to play in this regard. With liberalised band-width allocation, investor-friendly policies and enabling environment for private sector involvement, the multiplier effect of broadband deployment is unquantifiable and will rapidly transform Nigeria into a digital economy,” he said.
Citing infrastructural deficiencies, security issues, multiple taxation and poor network quality as some of the factors hampering mobile broadband operators in Nigeria, Ekeh whose Zinox Technologies has deployed some of the biggest ICT projects in the country, encouraged the participants to see the current challenges as temporary obstacles which will be surmounted with time, noting that Nigeria was a prime investment destination on the continent.
The conference, with the theme Connect Nigeria: Exploring ICT potential for growth, featured a panel discussion involving representatives of major players in the industry including CEO of Etisalat Nigeria, Matt Wilshire; managing director, Airtel Nigeria, Segun Ogunsanya; MTN’s corporate services executive, Wale Goodluck, and Nokia’s head of Central, East and West African sub-region, David Gaul.
In their submissions, the panelists were unanimous that Nigeria was overdue for 3G/LTE deployment in view of the massive opportunities it holds for unleashing human capital development. However, government intervention in eliminating impediments such as the high cost of broadband infrastructure deployment, spectrum allocation and issues with Right of Way, were also deemed crucial to this initiative.
Also speaking at the event, Nokia Networks’ head of Middle East and Africa, Bernard Najm, emphasised the organisation’s commitment to supporting Nigeria’s broadband strategy by providing operators with affordable 3G/LTE technology and global expertise to build and run the networks efficiently. The well-attended event witnessed the presentation of plaques to the participants by Nokia’s country director, Sam Nwosu.