Nigeria, the largest black nation in the world is on the verge of making another history in the development of telecommunications on the continent as the monthly subscriber growth rate is approximated at 1 million per month.
This is coming as expert noted that economic development of any country at this era depends largely on the progress such country has made in the provision of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for the citizenry.
This position was accentuated by renowned telecommunications engineer and Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, in his paper as guest lecturer at this year’s Champion Better Society lecture with the theme: Telecommunications in National Development, in Lagos.
He explained that between 1993 and year 2002 mobile users in developing countries increased from 3 million to over 500 million.
He cited an instance with China that now has over 500 million phone subscribers, and India boosts of 6 million new subscribers every month, whereas in Nigeria, “the monthly subscriber growth rate approximates 1 million per month.”
Equally, he quoted the 2006 report of the World Bank on ICT for Development and World Economic Forum 2006 report on Global Information Technology as underlining the fact that economic development depends largely on overall progress in a country’s ICTs sector.
“Without such progress, both economies and private enterprises suffer,” he declared.
He stressed that companies that use ICTs grow faster, and have been rated to be more productive and profitable than those that do not.
“The value of products and services is increasingly a function of their information content and the knowledge used to produce them rather than the raw material content,” he asserted.
Dr. Ndukwe pointed out that the ability to easily access and share information and stimulate the creation of new ideas is viewed as essential to maintaining a strong economy and enhancing the quality of life of every citizen.
Hence, he found ICT solace in telecommunications networks, which he noted, have made it possible for developing countries to participate in the world economy in ways that simply were not possible hitherto.
This realty, he said, reflected in the rapid growth telecommunications has been experiencing around the world, noting that in 1999, there were 1.4 billion connected lines worldwide with 490 million mobile lines, 905 million fixed.
“Today, there are nearly 4.5 billion lines with 3 billion mobile and 1.5 billion fixed,” he said.
He also said that in the last eight years, a total of 31 billion lines were added, and according to recent publication of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), “today, most of the planet’s 6.1 billion inhabitants are within reach of telephone service.”
He emphasized that this goes to explain the importance the world today attaches to the development of telecommunications infrastructure.
In order to increase universal adoption of ICTs, Dr. Ndukwe said, implies that nations need to adopt ICTs or become less competitive, especially in developing economies by creating enabling environment to encourage development of ICT infrastructure.“Indeed, the developing world has become the investment destination for new investment opportunities,” he said.