Nigerian Officials Impress At ITU Telecoms World As They Highlight 'Smart Communities' Being Key For Nigeria

Representatives from Nigeria's government and private sectors made presentations to investors at ITU Telecoms World 2016, the International Telecommunication Union's flagship conference, highlighting the West African country’s developments in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) opportunities for future investment.

The country's delegation was led by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)'s Executive Vice Chairman, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, the Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Nasir El-Rufai, the Minister, Ministry of Communications, Adebayo Shittu and MainOne’s Chief Executive Officer, Funke Opeke.

Speaking during the panel session on “Smart Communities as the key to a Digital Nigeria”, Prof. Danbatta spoke of the opportunities for investment in Nigeria, aided by flexible regulatory policies. In addition, MainOne CEO Funke Opeke described the Telecom Infrastructure gaps in the country and the opportunities available for investment.

Ms Opeke highlighted the government-assisted Infrastructure Company (Infraco) project as an example, where MainOne is the licensee to expand broadband penetration in Lagos State from the current 20 percent to over 30 percent, in line with Nigeria's National Broadband Plan for 2018. Furthermore, the licensees for five other regions of the country are currently available for bid.

The tremendous potential Nigeria’s ICT industry offers good returns for investors, considering the potential market that Nigeria's 80 Million internet users present. The country also has a growing number of smartphone users, and voice penetration stands at over 100 percent.

Ms Opeke also noted that most regions of the country are still underserved in terms of ICT deployment and reiterated that commitment of the government to diversify the economy from oil will require greater ICT penetration to create jobs.

“Availability of broadband infrastructure across all regions of Nigeria and the technology adoption this will facilitate will greatly accelerate the pace of development in Nigeria, facilitate increased non-oil trade, enhance the Digital economy, improve public access to education, health and other social services and aid job creation”, Ms Opeke said.

The ITU Telecom World is an annual conference sponsored by the ITU which features high-level CEO and Ministerial Round Tables to facilitate open dialogues between governments and business leaders. Held in Bangkok, Thailand, the conference theme for 2016 is “Collaboration in the Digital Economy” and featured sessions on collaborative regulation, smart sustainable cities, fostering SME innovation, gender-inclusive development and digital financial services for financial inclusion.

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