" ITREALMS: Ekuwem to increase SMEEIS fund for telecom

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Ekuwem to increase SMEEIS fund for telecom

EXECUTIVE Vice Chairman, Teledom Group International, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem has unveiled his agenda for the forthcoming general election of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), just as he plans to agitate for an increased sectoral fund from the Small and Medium Enterprises Equity Investment Scheme (SMEEIS). Where billions of Naira are lying untapped.

The election scheduled to hold in Lagos this Friday, comes as part of ATCON’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) and National Executive Council (NEC) held every two years.

SMEEIS is funded with 10 per cent after tax deductions from enterprises in the country.

Dr. Ekuwem, who also is the immediate past President, Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), insisted that until the nation put the right policies framework to encourage SMEs to be productive and produce upto installed capacity, then, “We’re non-starters. Therefore, something has to be done in that regard.”

According to him, loans would be facilitated for bold efforts at made-in-Nigeria facilities to be used in the industry during his tenure, even as he would work towards having a good percentage of SMEIS funds to be zoned to telecom industry.

As such, stakeholders fora made up of ATCON, NCC and banks would be organized within this period to work out the modalities for partnerships.

Speaking to ITRealms Online, weekend, Dr. Ekuwem said that it is his passion for affordability and available broadband that is driving him to contest for the top-most position, the national president of the association.

In line with his stand, broadband-based Information and Communications Technology (ICT) offerings should form part of the fundamental human rights of the citizenry and seamless interconnection topping his agenda.

“I am passionate in my advocacy for access to broadband ICT services as a fundamental human right of every Nigerian,” he asserted.

This, he said, could only be ensured via rapid penetration to every village in Nigeria by broadband ICT infrastructure. He also stressed his avid view on availability of ICT services via functional infrastructure.

He is equally passionate about the need for affordability of ICT services to the Nigerian people within the context of cost recovery and profit for the operators and service providers.

“There is need for high quality of service for the ICT service consumers,” he declared, noting that the telecom consumers must have value for their money and there should be no charges for service not rendered.

He also promises creation of platforms in partnership with the NCC, and in consultation with telecom consumers in the country to ensure access, availability, affordability and quality of service to prevail in the industry.
“I want to also strengthen the platform for dispute resolution among members of ATCON, especially among the operators brother group (ALTON). We must nib interconnect disputes in the bud. We must intervene as friends before disagreements after the growth of the industry negatively. Where two or more operators fight, the telecom consumers suffer,” he declared.

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