President Buhari charges telecom industry to boost Africa’s economy

Na'ankwat Dariem, Abuja

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The Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has charged telecoms industry in Africa to play a greater role in the economic development of the African continent.

The President said that though the sector currently contributes over 10% to Nigerian’s GDP, he expects more from the industry as an enabler of economic growth and development not only in Nigeria but also across the continent.

President Buhari who gave the charge during the second edition of the Conference of African Telecommunications Regulators on Consumer Affairs (CATCO), 2019 in Abuja Nigeria, said, “We are in an era where advancement in Information and Communication, Technologies (ICTs) is fast changing the dynamics of economies globally.

Represented by the Chief of Staff to the Secretary to the Government of the Federal (SGF), Polycarp Shambo, the president said, “I wish to charge telecoms regulators in Africa that, as you focus on deepening access to digital services in your respective countries, attention must also be paid to how consumers are empowered to be protected from the antics of abusers of these technologies. This, therefore, underscores the relevance of this forum in our digital ecosystem”.

He therefore implored participants at the conference to come up with  proposals and policies for governments in African on how to enhance telecom consumers’ quality of experience across Africa as well as increase accessibility, affordability and safety for all users of digital services.

The Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Dambatta, who was represented by the Director Public Affairs, NCC, Dr. Henry Nkemadu, in his welcome address, reiterated the need to improve telecom services on the African continent and the challenges faced by regulators.

“Let me reiterate the fact that improving telecom service in our respective telecoms industry, through effective regulations, has become essential not only to businesses but also to the entire national economy.

“In fact, regulators are now faced with the huge and daunting challenges of matching their regulatory policies with the various stakeholders’ interests within the context of the advancement being witnessed every minute in the digital space. We have commenced aggressive enforcement of compulsory compliance with the NCC’s Code of Corporate Governance for Telecommunications Industry 2016.
“We are also ensuring that telecoms service delivery is improved through continuously monitoring of activities of our licensees in order to treat consumer right and offer them value for their money,”
Prof Danbatta noted

The Secretary General of the African Telecommunications Union-ATU, Mr. John Omo commended Nigeria for achieving 67% Consumer Satisfaction Index through its various consumer centric initiatives and taking the lead in reforming the telecom sector in the continent.

Mr. Omo noted that “there is a need to create a strong Digital Economy for sustainable economic development in the region not only to improve the lives of citizens but to earn their trust. And will continue to work with our governments we can ensure that our eco systems are secure and stable. 

“I want to implore our member countries to ensure that we develop a comprehensive digital transformation strategy that will drive common and coordinated response in order to reap the benefits of ICT.” He added

The 2019 edition of CATCO with the theme “Empowering the Telecom Consumer in an Era of Technological Evolution” is expected to critically examine, analyse and identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to how telecoms regulators can empower the consumers in this era of technological evolution.

Nnenna.O