Monday, September 14, 2009

Telecom investors can’t ignore Nigeria – Akunyili

Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. (Mrs.) Dora Akunyili, has declared that the nation’s telecommunications revolution is a success story despite all the challenges therein, saying that today, a quarter of Africans using mobile phones are Nigerians.

She also said that the avalanche of telecommunications induced trade has made Nigeria indispensable to any serious investor who wants to relate with Africans, especially given that a quarter of African mobile users are Nigerians.

Speaking while receiving the Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Dr. Hamadoun Toure, who paid her a courtesy visit in Abuja, Thursday, Akunyili noted that the Nigerian telecommunication sector has already become a success, even as government is determined to sustain the tempo.

She noted that presently, Nigerian mobile subscriber-base has reached 68 million, and there is room for growth in the years ahead.

She assured that her ministry would work with the telecom regulator in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to ensure that quality of service would continue to improve.

“We’re going to work with NCC to ensure that quality of service improves,” she declared.

Akunyili pointed out that most Nigerians carry more than one mobile phone basically due to poor quality of service among telecom operators.

She also informed the visiting Sec-Gen of ITU that a Nigerian subscriber is worth about 10 subscribers in the developed world, because a Nigerian would prefer to skip a lunch and make calls than stay without reaching out, which is unlike those in developed world who would like a call to be very short.

So, Nigeria is happy about the growth and in the next few years, this would grow, stressing that Nigeria and Africa is proud of Dr. Toure’s election even if he wants a second term.

“Your election calls for celebration and you are showing the world that colour is not a barrier to good leadership. Just like Obama is doing in the United States,” she said.

Speaking earlier, Dr. Toure told the Minister that he was in the country to attend the 2009 edition of African Telecom Development Summit and wanted to use the opportunity to appreciate the government, especially her ministry.

He said that ITU is working on a number of fronts with collaboration of other stakeholders by playing its role of proffering solutions.

“I am pleased to see Africa is contributing to the world’s economy,” he said, adding that the progress made in Nigeria could not have been achieved without the support of the ministry and government of Nigeria.

“We need private sector, good governance and fair regulator to ensure sustainability,” he said.

Emphasizing that in the last five years, Africa has increasingly grown its quota in the world telecom space and was happy at the summit that opened in Abuja that various ministries were well represented, which indicated the importance of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to this government.

A few years ago, Dr. Toure said, calls from this part of the world was not counting, but today, most of the calls made in Africa revolves around Nigeria.

As said by him, telecom industry the world over, is booming, hence resilient and even as two-third of jobs created presently are in ICT, just as Nigeria has over 41 per cent of African telecom market.

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