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Friday, October 13, 2006

‘Full liberalisation bequeaths development’

Remmy Nweke who was in Abuja

Full liberalisation of any sector bequeaths it with positive development as dividends.

Chief regulator of the Nigeria’s telecommunication industry and the executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, made this declaration in Abuja.

This, he said, was beneath the progress made in the last five years by Nigeria which has began to trickle down to the rural communities with the avalanche of “umbrella people” serving as middle men between these communities and technology.

Speaking at the Connecting Rural Communities Africa 2006 in Abuja, Dr. Ndukwe, recalled that Nigerian telecom industry has come of age given that at iindependence in 1960, that is 46 years ago, there were less than 20,000 lines, even as early telecom development policies marred by political, administrative and military interests.

Nigerians he said, have a peculiar entrepreneur gift, which inspires them to commence setting up call centres as soon as there is signal available within their communities.

He traced the history of telecommunications development in Nigeria to 1999, where he said, there were still less than 400,000 lines nationwide, so there was the need for the sector reform.

“The new democratic government at inception (1999) opted for full sector reform to improve services, eradicate misuse of monopoly power while increasing sector efficiency through competition by encouraging innovation and introduction of advanced services as well as attract local and foreign investment,” he explained.

Just as the reform paved the way for enhanced value to consumers through improved range and pricing of services, at the same time as extending services to underserved and unserved areas.

He tracked the level of development in the sector to what he called “full liberalization” beginning from year 2000 till date.

Ndukwe also pointed out that this move was further elucidated by encouragement of democracy and responsive governance since 1999.

“The hallmark of the 2001 telecom policy was the blueprint for full liberalization of the telecom industry,” he affirmed, even as the implementation required some measures being taken to ensure success.

He said that it also gave confident to foreign direct investment and inflow of capital and equipment, coupled with the removal of restriction in level of foreign equity participation.

“Reduction in level of import duties on telecom equipment from 25 per cent to 5 per cent for two years from August 2001; simplification of procedures for importation of telecommunications equipment and development of related software; granting of pioneer status to qualified investors, and fiscal incentives to encourage local manufacture,” he said were meant to spur development.

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