Vanguard (Lagos)

16 October 2012

Nigeria: FG Pledges to Boost Investment in ICT

Dubai — The nation's ICT sector is set for a big boost as the Federal Government has pledged that the investment profile of the sector will be given fresh fillip so that it can be expanded for job creation.

President Goodluck Jonathan, represented by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, said in Dubai at the on-going ITU Telecom World 2012 that the US$15billion investment level on Information and Communication Technology, ICT, will be expanded and opened up to create additional jobs.

Comparing Nigeria with the United Arab Emirates, UAE, the Vice-President said "Nigeria, with a population of about 167 million people, has an investment level of about US$15 billion in the ICT sector while Dubai with a population of just about four million has an investment level of about $60 billion."

Further, VP Sambo noted that ICT is one of the major areas of job and wealth creation and hence "it is essential that Nigeria continues to have cooperation at the international level so as to continue to expand and open the ICT sector in the country to create jobs for the teeming Nigerian populace."

At the leaders lunch hosted by Nigeria yesterday, which was attended by officials of state of UAE and other Middle East nations and industry leaders, Vice President Sambo said President Jonathan would have loved to be personally present, but had to be represented by him owing to pressure of matters of state.

Noting that further success in the telecoms and IT sector will be facilitated by reliable power supply, Arc Sambo said the development of the ICT sector is important to the Federal Government.

His words: "One of the aspects of this development is the issue of adequate power generation and supply. Before our administration came into power, generation was just a little over 2,000 Mw, but now we generate over 4,000 Mw.

In the Lagos area, we have achieved 19 hours of daily power supply. 10 new thermal power plants are under construction, which will add 5,000 Mw to the national grid, while government has also invested in the Mambilla Hydro-electric power project, which is expected to add another 5,000 Mw, in addition to yet another hydro power project in Zungeru which is expected to generate 700 Mw. In addition to all of these, government is working with Siemens on alternative sources of energy."

He stated that Nigeria has the opportunity to grow higher than Dubai, saying that the Federal Government was determined to create jobs for Nigerians, open the sector and create opportunities for wealth creation.

According to him, Nigeria is participating in the conference in recognition of the great importance of ICT to the realisation of the administration's transformation agenda of making it one of the most developed economies of the world by 2020.

Secretary-General of the International telecommunications Union, Dr Hamadoun Toure in his remarks noted that "for Nigeria to have remained the fastest growing telecoms market for five years in a row means there are things people in that sector are doing right. Now, the giant of Africa has risen, and there is no stopping it. I am from Mali, and I should know, Nigeria is the economic power house of the West African sub-region."

This drew applause from the audience of Nigerians present at the event.

The ITU scribe noted further that many countries desire broadband but Nigeria not only desires broadband but has put together a plan for broadband development and thus should be encouraged through investment.

Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson, speaking at the occasion reiterated the importance of the ICT sector to the Nigerian economy and its contribution to GDP growth, and commended both President Jonathan and Vice-President Sambo.

"Nigeria is the only country here represented at such high levels. Our Vice-President will be here for three days, further underscoring the importance of ICT development to this government.

Executive Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr Eugene Juwah also at the launch gave a presentation with the theme: Broadband Nigeria - A connected nation. He reeled out facts about Nigeria's spectacular growth in teledensity, which was 1.92 with a little over 400,000 lines at the turn of last century to about 75 per cent with 105 million lines at present.

He however noted that while considerable progress has been made in voice telephony, development in the area of broadband has been poor. He then disclosed that NCC has perfected the Open Access Model, supported with a work plan for broadband development which investors can make use of. He also commended the Open Access Model to other developing nations so as to avoid challenges faced by developed nations.

The Nigerian event was attended by industry leaders, government officials, and two state governors, Dr Muázu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State and Governor Theodore Orji of Abia state.

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