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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Expert predicts soaring FDI for telecom sector

Expert on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) exhibitions, Mr. John Thomason, has predicted an increased flow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the nation’s telecommunications sector.

Mr. Thomson, who also is the managing director of the West African International Telecommunication and Information Communications Technology (W.AfriTel), said, there is renewed confidence on the nation’s economy.

Speaking on W.AfriTel-2006 scheduled to take place in June this year, in Lagos, Mr. Thomson, said the last five years have shown the nation is capable of accommodating more foreign investments.

This, he noted, is predicated on the rising profile of the country’s economy.
ITReamls Online recalls that Nigeria’s FDI in telecom sector rose to $10 billion as at December 2005, against $5 million in 1999.

Mr. Thomson pointed out that with the chapter to be availed in the United Licensing Regime (ULR), the nation’s operators would now enter an era where they are faced with optimising their networks to meet up with higher demands for better quality of service and a bouquet of Value Added Services (VAS).

He also disclosed that W.Afri.Tel 2006, holding from June 20 through 22, has been planned to further the growth in Nigeria’s telecom sector.

“Today Africa’s mobile phone subscriber-base exceeds 100 million but that is only 11 per cent of the continent’s population. The African telecoms market is booming; but the fact is, only the surface has been scratched,” he declared.

He expressed no surprise that Nigeria is leading the continent’s telecom growth, stressing that a recent report showed that in 2004 Nigeria overtook South Africa as the continent’s fastest-growing mobile market with six million new subscribers that year alone, compared to the five million new users in South Africa. This was besides current total subscribers’ number of over 20 million gained in a record time of five years.

“In addition, last year Nigeria grew its subscriber base by a further 173 per cent. Yet despite rocketing growth, with over 20 million cellphone users, Nigeria’s cellphone penetration is still very low. This is a clear indication that the potential for growth in the country and the region is phenomenal,” he said.

In the last five years, W.Afri.Tel, has consistently brought in technology companies from Europe, America and Asia, among other regions, to exhibit their products and services in Nigeria.

Also speaking, editor-in-chief of IT & Telecom Digest, W.Afri.Tel’s sole agents in Nigeria, Mr. Mkpe Abang, said, last year’s show was a sell-out, and this year’s event will offer unequal opportunities for plugging into nation’s engine of growth which he described as ‘telecom’.

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