By Emma Okonji in Bangkok, Thailand
The former Secretary-General, International Telecoms Union (ITU), the United Nation agency that coordinates global telecommunications activities, Dr. Hamadoun Toure, has said that with the massive population of Nigeria, the country can attract heavy foreign investments in the areas of telecoms, agriculture and other sectors, if the country’s policies are well tilted towards infrastructural development.
Toure, who was the special guest of honour at the Nigeria’s Investment Forum in Bangkok, Thailand, the host county to this year’s ITU Telecom World, said Nigeria has a population of over 170 million people, majority of which fall between the age bracket of 25 years and 45 years, and that this group of people are entrepreneurial in nature and tech savvy.
According to him, the large population of Nigeria is a major indices that would attract investors because the market is huge and the people are ready. He however said, government must enact and implement policies that would boost infrastructural development in the country, to enable foreign investors get attracted to the country.
According to him, while he was Secretary-General of ITU, Nigeria played a pivotal role to telecoms development in Africa and it is still playing that role. He explained that Nigeria’s investment in telecommunication in the country, earned it the position of the fastest growing telecommunications in Africa and the entire world, a position, he said, was maintained by Nigeria for five consecutive years.
He told foreign investors present at the investment forum from over 120 countries of the world, to take a close look at the dynamics of telecoms growth in Nigeria and to make efforts to invest in Nigeria where returns on investment is high, based on the market size, occasioned by the large population of the country.
“Telecoms subscribers’ number in Nigeria is so massive that the country has surpassed the urge to increase its number. What the county needs now is how to effectively manage the massive number of subscribers and ensure that they enjoy quality of service,” Toure said.
The time to invest in Africa, especially in Nigeria is now, and African governments must rise to the challenge of empowering its citizens in order to develop telecoms infrastructure and other sectors infrastructure in the country.
Human brain, he said, is one of the natural resources that God blessed every country with and also distributed it evenly and that Nigeria has over 170 million of such brains that needed to be empowered through ICT development, Toure added.
Speaking on investment growth in Nigeria, Toure said in 2000, before the commercial rollout of Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM), telecoms investments in the county was about $50 million, but that as at July 2016, investments in the telecoms sector rose as high as $68.2 billion, while commending the efforts of the staff of the Nigerian Communications Commission, for its efforts in contributing to the growth of the telecoms sector, through a sound and robust regulatory system.
The Chief Executive Officer of MainOne, West Africa’s premier connectivity and data centre solutions provider, Ms. Funke Opeke, and the Vice President, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs at Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Ibrahim Dikko, who sat at the panel discussion during the Nigerian Investment Forum in Bangkok, commended the efforts of government and the NCC, for their efforts in wooing foreign investors to invest in Nigeria.
Speaking on their success stories as telecoms service providers in Nigeria, Opeke said Nigeria currently has 20 per cent mobile broadband band connectivity, with over 98 per cent internet access penetration, and that MainOne would continue to do everything possible to help the country attain and surpass the projected 30 per cent broadband penetration by 2018. Dikko said Etisalat has invested in infrastructure and would continue to do so, in order to further drive telecoms development in the country.