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Post-COVID19: Time to drive digital economy through new national broadband plan implementation- Jane Egerton-Idehen



Country Manager (Nigeria) and Regional Sales Director West Africa, Avanti, Jane Egerton-Idehen (Photo - Wikipedia Commons)
It is projected that five years from now – in 2025 – Africa’s Digital Economy will hit US$300Billion in size.

In contrast, Africa’s second largest economy – South Africa – is projected to be US$380Billion at the end of 2020.

The question is: how is Nigeria positioning to tap into the ‘new world economic order’ so to say?

Well, the New National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 is an important document that has already listed all the work that is required to achieve the country’s goal with regards broadband penetration and driving the digital economy.

This view was shared by the Country Manager (Nigeria) and Regional Sales Director West Africa, Avanti, Jane Egerton-Idehen, during a Virtual Conversation organised by the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), on Thursday, under the theme: ‘Socio-Economic and Political Impact of COVID19 on Telecom and ICT sector in Nigeria’.

Egerton-Idehen, said that with the recent moves by the Federal and State Governments towards the protection of telecommunication infrastructure and the harmonisation of Right of Way charges, industry players must collaboratively strategize to leverage these opportunities to deploy infrastructure and increase the sectorial contribution to the country’s GDP.

Her comments:

“I really want to appreciate the efforts of the Minister (of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami), ATCON, NCC and other industry stakeholders. We have seen the Governors already moving ahead to reduce the Right of Way (RoW). We hope that remaining States will also disclose their rates.

“We also want to acknowledge that the CNI (Critical National Infrastructure) has taken a new turn. For Mr. President (Muhammadu Buhari) to have made that pronouncement, I think we are moving in the right direction.  

“But, while we are still discussing about COVID-19 and Post-COVID-19, it is important that we ensure the work continues. So, if you ask me, I would say that the New National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 has already listed all the work that is required to achieve our collective goal as a country; and it is quite detailed. If we can achieve everything in that plan we should be where we want to be. I think the difference should be that COVID-19 has pushed us to increase the momentum and that is what I am actually asking for; we have to move faster than we thought.

“Some of these plans were set at 2021, 2022 and it is clear that the impact of technology is so huge that the only way most countries could play is that they are at a point where they can increase their momentum. We see a lot of countries trying to do as much as they in the areas of infrastructure deployment. Some of the things we plan to do like Spectrum availability for infrastructure expansions we are clamouring for; we are talking about site acquisition and all those things we listed in the National Broadband Plan. This is the time to increase that momentum.  


“Secondly, collaboration is a great thing. We should not stop talking about this. The force of this sector is so important we can do more to increase our contributions to the GDP. The only way we can do that is by collaborating; so much is happening, but we need to work together to improve on our digital economy”.  

Earlier, the President of ATCON, Engineer Olusola Teniola, said the virtual meeting was convened to ensure effective regulation and development and building of local capacities for the speedy spread of telecom and ICT infrastructure facilities across the country’.

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He said that ATCON is driving the dialogue to push for the buy-in of governments at all levels to encourage telecom and ICT infrastructure development in their respective states by encourage rapid investment through incentives such as tax holiday and provision of special intervention funds for the sector by the Central Bank of Nigeria”.

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