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Telecoms deserve 30% of CBN’s N15trn infrastructure funding – Nnamani, Abu

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Wole Abu (l) and Ikechukwu Nnamani (r) on telecom

The 1st Vice President of Association of Telecommunication Company of Nigeria (ATCON), Engineer Ikechukwu Nnamani and the CEO of Pan African Telecom (PAT), Wale Abu, have joined other stakeholders in clamouring for adequate financing of infrastructure deployment in the telecoms sector.

The duo, speaking during a Sectoral Virtual Forum 2020 on Thursday, organized by the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), specifically called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to allocate 30 per cent of the recently announced N15trn consortium to boost infrastructure development in Nigeria, to further develop telecom infrastructure.

Nnamani who doubles as the President/MD, Medallion Communications Limited, reiterated that telecom infrastructure development is capital intensive hence it will be wise the CBN reviews its plan to deploy a whopping N15trillion into building transportation infrastructure without recourse to the challenges faced in the telecom sector.

In his words, “The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced plans to establish an N15 trillion infrastructure development company. I expected that 30 percent of that money to be channeled into building telecom infrastructure. Concentrating everything into building the transport infrastructure would be unfair to the 196 million telecom subscribers, who are always advocating for good quality service but could not get most of the time because of lack of the required infrastructure”.

Nnamani added that it was a no-brainier that the country should work towards growing investments in the telecoms sector as means to drive the digital economy agenda.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele had recently announced plans to establish an N15 trillion infrastructure development company, which he said will be used to fund the rebuilding of critical infrastructure across the country for an initial period of five years.

The apex bank Governor noted that the funding will be mobilized to support the federal government in building the transport infrastructure required to move agriculture and other products to processors, raw materials to factories, and finished goods to markets.

But, Mr. Wole Abu argued that the CBN should not neglect the telecom operators, adding that post covid-19 economy will dwell majorly on digital infrastructure hence any opportunity to massively deploy infrastructure across the country must be followed.

He supported Nnamani’s position on the matter, noting that the $136 billion infrastructure deficit in the telecom industry must be fixed to drive the economy forward.

In his contribution, the President of ATCON, Engr. Olusola Teniola, who also moderated the event, said that the New National Broadband (2020-2025) implementation steering committee is looking at various options on financing infrastructure in the industry.

He said that the Committee recognizes the herculean task of attracting investments in the industry presently, adding that the country needs to about 80,000 base stations to even connectivity across the country.

“Today, it is actually a huge challenge for our members to access forex in order to acquire equipment. These are part of the issues the Broadband implementation steering committee are looking at”, Teniola added.