The National Executive Council (NEC), Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has paid a solidarity visit to the Secretary to the State Government of Akwa-Ibom State, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, seeking the State government’ partnership on Akwa-Ibom Technology Investment Forum (ATIF).
Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel recently appointed Dr. Ekuwem the SSG; one time President of ATCON.
Leading the ATCON delegation, the President, Mr. Olusola Teniola, expressed the Association’s delight and particularly grateful to the Governor who according to “our findings has performed very well”.
Teniola, said that the SSG’s recent appointment was a pointer to the fact that while he was the President of ATCON Dr. Ekuwem did performed very well; “and that was the singular reason that the Governor is surrounding himself with people who have track records of performance. You left an indelible mark of achievement in ATCON which has been the reason why ATCON is seen as the most veritable platform to advocate for all that telecom companies need to succeed in Nigeria”.
Citing Ekuwem’s achievements, Teniola said “Today’s NEC courtesy visit to you is exceptionally unique in that it is to one of us who have been part and parcel of supporting the creation of an enabling environment for the continuous and profitable existence of telecom companies in Nigeria.
“We can recall vividly some of the things you craved for and pursued with all your energy when you were the President of ATCON. The following are notable: SIM card registration, Number portability and a call to redesign the curriculum being used in our tertiary institution for engineers”
“Once again, the Association is fully aware that your appointment is based on your extraordinary pedigree as a thorough bred technocrat, professional and a promoter of human relations with sterling leadership quality, we are confident that you are more than equal to the task ahead”.
The incumbent ATCON President, however, decried some of the factors responsible for low broadband penetration in Nigeria, which he believes the State Government should also look into.
“In Nigeria today, the telecommunications sector is faced with the challenge of multiple taxation. This is not helping the industry to grow as all tiers of government are taxing the sector and the direct resultant effect of this is erosion of profits, which does not encourage further direct investment to the country.
Shutting Down of Base Stations and Destruction of Masts and Towers
“The record has shown that base stations are shut down by either local government or state government without any prior notice to service provider and this usually accounts for poor quality of telecoms service in Nigeria. The NCC in collaboration with other stakeholders have been working arduously to put an end to this challenge.
“As a matter of fact, the recent cybercrimes law frowns at it. This is another challenge that has impeded the growth of the sector in the sense that some miscreants have turned it to their businesses to destroy the telecom masts and Towers.
“The cybercrime law treats telecoms infrastructure as a critical National Infrastructure in Nigeria but it is yet to be implemented,” Teniola enumerated.
ATCON Collaborative Initiative with Akwa-Ibom State
To this end, he said as part of contributions towards making the SSG’s tenure an unforgettable one, the Association would like to partner with the State to organize ‘Akwa-Ibom Technology Investment Forum’.
“The primary objective of the proposed forum is to encourage growth and development in the state through deliberate investment in technology”.
In his response, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, said immediately he was sworn in as the new SSG to the Governor of Akwa Ibom, he invited all the telecom companies to find out their challenges but to his great surprise those telecom companies in the state said the state has been very cooperative and there was no incidence of multiple taxation and no harassment from the state.
He further stated that the Government of Akwa Ibom knows the importance of broadband as 10% broadband penetration is equivalent to 1.3 % increase in GDP and apart from this, it also enhances productivity and the state has always encouraged telecom companies operating in Akwa Ibom to maintain a higher level of maintenance culture so as to prevent the incidence of mast collapse and malfunctioning of base station in the state.
“The state also plans to connect all the local governments in the state through broadband and IPTVs are being installed in all government offices to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in the State”, he said.
The SSG said the focus of the government is to have smart classrooms, smart city and smart cities and the state is currently working on electrification projects called Ibom Power and seven local governments are expected to enjoy Portable Power Supply in no distant time.