The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has urged the Federal Government to improve the funding, infrastructure and security of the telecommunications industry in the country.
The President of ATCON, Ikechukwu Nnamani, gave the advice in an interveiw on Monday in Abuja.
He was speaking during the National Strategic Mobilisation for the Actualisation of National Broadband Target of 70 per cent Conference and Exhibition organised by ATCON.
The theme of the conference and exhibition is: “Realising the New Set Target of 70 per cent of Broadband Penetration”.
Nnamani also urged the government to ensure there was adequate funding through its various channels.
He said lack of adequate funding was because of the foreign exchange challenges as most of the infrastructure needed were foreign-based.
“We have been discussing this before that there has to be a specialised kind of funding for the telecom and ICT sector, that needs to be done.
“The treatment of telecom as a critical service needs to be actualised so that infrastructure are not vandalised; state governments need to abide by the agreement towards Right-of-Way (RoW).
It should “either wave it or reducing it to not more than N140.00 per linear metre, so that fibre can be laid across various states in the country.
“More importantly, government should just create an enabling business environment by encouraging local content participation in the telecom space.
“If these are done, we will definitely not only meet but surpass the target of 70 per cent,” he said.
Nnamani said that with the reality on ground, there were several issues trying to mitigate against the attainment of that goal.
“You want to import and you don’t have access to that.
“We still have issues with some state governments that are not cooperating to give Right-of-Way or increase the price exorbitantly.
There are “Challenges with insecurity across various parts of the country that need to be tackled and a lot of them,” he said.
Nnamani, however, said the reason for the event was for stakeholders to come together, review those challenges and proffer solutions.
“We are still optimistic; irrespective of these challenges, we will hit the target and potentially surpass it if stakeholders work together to address the issues and come up with the right ways to go around it.
“That is why in an event like this, you have government people, regulators, the private sectors and even the users of the services, all coming together under one forum, so that we can all address it,” he said.
The Executive Vice-Chairman (EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the challenges impeding the actualisation of the 70 per cent broadband penetration target were not insurmountable.
Danbatta said the Commission had opened communications with the European offering Grants and Loans to support broadband Infrastructure deployment as part of Digital Economy development in Nigeria.
“The Commission has granted the first Landing Permit to a Space Segment Satellite Operator which will bring enormous broadband capacity to the country,” he said.
Dantata said the poor infrastructure in the industry was due to the failure of government to plough back part of proceeds of spectrum fees into infrastructure development, since the inception of telecom liberalisation in 2001.
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