Karl Toriola, CEO of MTN Nigeria has said that Nigerian states would significantly grow the ICT sector within their geographical sphere if they were to invest in ICT parks and economic clusters.
The MTN Nigerian CEO said this during a panel discussion at the 29th Nigerian Economic Summit which took place in Abuja.
“I am waiting for the first state to create an ICT park. And, it’s not an ICT park where you put a few data centres: I am talking about a complete environment where you allow limitless fibre to be rolled to cover those kinds of locations, and where you allow leading technologies, with power and other infrastructure,” Toriola said.
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There are a few states that have announced plans to build ICT parks and economic clusters. These include Ekiti State, Abia State, Anambra State and Lagos State. Toriola says the success of such park projects depends on the collaboration between the ICT sector and the states involved. That collaboration is what determines the flow of investment towards its completion and operations.
“Whether you look at it from an international level or regional or state level, capital will always flow to where the best return is. States should create clusters around agriculture, around mining, which gives an enabling environment and confidence to investors to come and invest in those areas knowing that it’s not just the specific location they are operating in, but border states,” Toriola said.
He also notes that investors are on the lookout for consistency in policy statements. Nigerian states are often hard to pin down when they make a promise. Toriola believes the regulatory framework provided by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) will support the growth of the telecom industry in Nigeria.
“The success of MTN and the telecommunications industry in Nigeria can be accounted for by clarity of policy and good institution building in our primary regulator. However, we have also seen that at the sub-national levels, there are some levels of inconsistencies of policies, multiple taxation, and inflation have become the major challenges companies are facing,” he said.