Nigeria: COVID-19 - 'How Telecoms Can Rebuild Nigeria's Economy'

The coronavirus pandemic has had devastating effects on all social and economic sectors in Nigeria, but experts have said the telecoms sector can help rebuild the post COVID-19 economy.

Experts who spoke at the weekend said the new phase of recovery and thriving will be defining for the country; and as seen in this crisis, telecommunications are playing a role in retaining any semblance of normalcy.

In recovery stage, they said, telcos will also help manage the transition out of COVID-19 related stagnation as well as provide a resilient national infrastructure to stimulate Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth.

ABI Research, global tech market advisory firm, in its new white-paper, "Telcos as a National Growth Accelerator", identified several strategies that governments can utilize to invest in stimulating growth by strengthening the telco position.

Stuart Carlaw, chief research officer at ABI Research, said, "it could be argued that telcos could play a pivotal role in countries being able to rebound from the financial and productivity shock coming from COVID-19."

ABI Research found that telcos have been invaluable in enabling some semblance of societal continuation during lockdowns due to COVID-19.

"In a very tactical way, they have enabled governments to track, trace, and manage the spread of the virus, communicate effectively and directly with people, and keep supporting society in a virtual, but valuable way. Without the investment and operational diligence of many telcos, the impact of COVID-19 would have been far deeper and more profoundly felt in all economies", Carlaw stated.

President of Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Engr Olusola Teniola said the biggest recovery for Nigeria will be by the careful and full implementation of all recommendations in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-25.

"Secondly, for there to be an immediate impact, government needs to kickstart the e-Gov digital migration, which means the immediate development of e-systems in all the MDAs and web-portals in different languages (Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa as a minimum) with voice assistance for the physically challenged.

"This will refocus and redeploy government spending on creating jobs on the supply side for the youth and demand from the citizens interacting with the systems to fulfil different needs", he added.

Also, Mohammed Rudman, Managing Director, Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) said telcos could aid the recovery efforts through cost effective innovative data bundle for young entrepreneurs as well as lower bandwidth cost that will offer more data at lower cost.

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