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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why Africa’ld liberalise telecom market - Juwah

Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr. Eugene Juwah at the weekend called on the political leadership of all African countries to support a liberalized telecom market so that the continent will benefit from the various opportunities presented by the industry at the moment.

Dr. Juwah who presented the lead paper at the NEPAD-Africa Technology Segment which was presided over by the former Ghanaian President, Mr. John Kuffour, which ended at the Transcorp Hilton Abuja, said that Africa’s current low teleensity compared with other parts of the world presents a huge opportunity for attracting investment. Niger State Governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu was one of the discussants at the session.

He said a lot of political will is needed from the leadership to liberalize the industry. He gave an example with Nigeria where the support of the leadership in telecom liberalization and deregulation has contributed to a total transformation of the sector in the last ten years, and invited the political leadership to take a cue from Nigeria.

According to him, Africa occupies a critical position in the world of telecommunications and ICT and with its population, it becomes the investment destination for global investors, vendors, equipment manufacturers and service providers.

“Africa is the only continent where teledensity average is not up 50 per cent yet. In most other continents, it is almost 100 per cent. This means that the demand for basic services in Africa for voice and data communication is still very huge.

“When investors come, they bring foreign direct investment, create employment opportunities, and stimulate the financial sector and other key sectors of the economy. So, it is evident that the need to ‘cover the uncovered’ in Africa presents a good opportunity for the transformation of the economy”, he said.

He attributed the recent increase in the number of investments in the undersea optics fibre infrastructure around the African continent to the opportunities that still about in Africa.

“Almost all the sea and ocean boundaries of Africa are now crisscrossed by one fibre optics cable project or another. These cables are meant to bring huge traffic into and out of Africa at greater speed and huge bandwidth. When Africa aggregates these deployments for exchange of traffic with other parts of the world, the stimulation and transformation of the way businesses are done in the continent, will equally change for good”, he said

According to him, the infrastructure now being deployed will bring about transformation in the economy as we are witnesses to how broadband deployments in other parts of the world are contributing to the transformation of their economy. “Broadband is an area in which even larger opportunities abound in Africa and cables will obviously fast tract broadband availability”, he said.

He also Africa’s political and economic integration would be more advanced with the availability of telecommunications and ICT infrastructure, hence the need for the political leadership go give more room for liberalization.

He said experience has shown that different governments of African countries have different rules of engagements with investors in this field and this becomes an uphill task to move from one country to another with delays in the deployment of services and obtaining landing permits becoming intractable.


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