The ICT contribution to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, has been as ” by far, the second largest contributor to the national economy, aside from the agricultural sector.” According to a press release by the Manager, Media Relations Management, Public Affairs Department, NCC, it stated that the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission,NCC,Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, stated this on Thursday in his key address at the second International Conference of the Association of Media and Communication Researchers of Nigeria (AMCRON) for 2022, virtually.
The NCC boss noted that from less than $500 million investment in 2001, the investment profile in the nation’s telecommunications sector had surpassed $70 billion, adding that the telecommunication sector had also created direct and indirect jobs for millions of Nigerians to date.
He said:”The telecom industry has recorded tremendous growth in all segments of the market.
“The industry has witnessed quite impressive statistics, pointing to how telecommunications policy and decisions of the government have continued to influence the growth of Nigeria’s digital revolution, marked by positive multiplier effects on other sectors of the economy.
“With ICT, communication is fast, precise and well-targeted. Without these revolutionary changes, mass communication would not be as effective as the world knows it.”
Prof. Danbatta,who spoke on”Influence of Communication Policies on Digital Revolution in Nigeria”, said that various communication policies and strategies formulated and emplaced by the government, had “helped to advance our national aspiration for a digital economy.”
He continued: The Commission has championed the implementation of these policies on digital access and connectivity, through various initiatives and regulatory interventions, to ensure that more Nigerians have access to digital services that are affordable.
“The installed switching capacity at the end of 1985 was 200,000 lines as against the planned target of about 460,000. Meanwhile, that has been modest development in the telecommunications industry since the inception of Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) in 1985.
” As of 2000, Nigeria had a public network of about 700,000 lines capacity of which 400,000 lines were connected. Nigeria, therefore, was behind in comparative terms juxtaposed with less endowed African countries, let alone advanced countries.
He, however, noted that “the NDEPS 2020 – 2030 spindles around the following eight pillars with the aim of accelerating the development of a digital economy in Nigeria among others:
- Developmental Regulation (effective regulation of the ICT and digital sector in a way that enables and enhances development).
- Digital Literacy and Skills (providing policy backing for massive training of Nigerians from all works of life to enable them to obtain digital literacy and other digital skills).
- Solid Infrastructure (deployment of fixed and mobile infrastructure to deepen the broadband penetration in the country).
- Service Infrastructure (support for Government Digital Services and the provision of robust digital platforms to drive the digital economy).
- Soft Infrastructure (strengthening public confidence in the use of digital technologies and participation in the digital economy).
- Digital Services Development and Promotion (development of a vibrant digital ecosystem that supports Innovation Driven Enterprises (IDE) and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in a way that engenders innovation).
- Digital Society and Emerging Technologies (focus on tying the development of the digital economy to indices of well-being in the lives of ordinary citizens; mentoring startups on emerging technologies to enable them to deploy their solutions).
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- Indigenous Content Development and Adoption (provision of a policy framework that gives preference to digitally skilled Nigerians for government-funded projects in line with Executive Orders 003 and 005 of President Muhammadu Buhari).
Danbatta recalled that the NCA,the primary regulatory instrument for the telecommunications sector being considered for a review, considering the rapid developments in the digital space, has provided a firmer foundation upon which the telecom sector rode to prominence and impact in the last 22 years.
” Suffice it to say, that between 2001 and now, Nigeria emplaced several forward-looking policy and regulatory initiatives that have consistently put Nigeria on the path of digital innovation and growth”, according to him.
According to him, in furtherance of the aims and objectives of NCC, the Commission has championed the implementation of various policies on digital access and connectivity, through various initiatives and regulatory interventions, to ensure that more Nigerians have access to affordable digital services.
On the relationship between NCC and the media,the EVC stressed that the Management of the Commission, under his leadership, had recognized the media – bet it print, broadcast and online – as central stakeholders that had been so supportive and consistent in reporting the developments in the telecommunications industry.
Danbatta described as heartwarming, the great minds who helped to produce the critical workforce shaping the media industry – professors and scholars in the Mass Communication field – are the founders and members of AMCRON.
According to him, while AMCRON is a relatively new body of media and mass communication professionals, having been formed in 2021, there is no doubt that its membership comprises eminent professors and scholars who have continued to contribute intellectually to the body of knowledge required to advance media and communication studies in Nigeria and beyond.
Prof. Danbatta expressed delight that
the noble objectives of AMCRON were to “develop and improve members’ research and theory-building capabilities while networking with others of like minds, for knowledge and nation-building purposes”, adding that the association also “strives to provide an intellectual search for new frontiers in the media and communication field.”
The NCC said relationship with the media industry and Mass Communications field predated his days as a university don and educational administrator and now as CEO of Nigeria’s telecom regulator authority, recalling that first job was with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in Kano State.
“The NCC will continue to strengthen collaboration with the media and mass communication scholars such as AMCRON towards creating an environment where stakeholders can leverage digital infrastructure and technology such as the Fifth Generation (5G) network.
“It is because of the promise of 5G for improved connectivity, better quality of life for individuals, enhanced efficiency for businesses, and quantifiable growth in the economy that the NCC continued to drive the implementation of the 5G policy in Nigeria,”he stressed.