Global ICT Companies Count Losses to Covid-19

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By Emma Okonji

Apart from financial losses by global Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies that cannot be ascertained presently due to the cancellation of the Mobile World Congress 2020 as a result of the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19),industry experts have said a lot of knowledge must have been lost as well.

The congress would have held this week in Barcelona, Spain and its cancellation has created huge knowledge gap for thousands of participants who learn new technologies from the global event, which holds annually.

Some industry experts who spoke to THISDAY about the economic losses, said it would be difficult to place figures on the financial losses presently, because they do not have idea of how much money GSMA makes from its yearly events, but they however said huge knowledge gap that cannot be quantified, must have also been lost due to the cancellation.

GSMA, penultimate week, announced the cancellation of this year’s Mobile World Congress hitherto slated to hold between February 24 and 27 in Barcelona, Spain, following the outbreak of Corona Virus, otherwise called Covid-19, which has killed thousands of Chinese and left several others infected.

Attributing the reason for the cancellation to the outbreak of Corona Virus in China, which broke out on 31, December, 2019, the CEO of GSMA, Mr. John Hoffman, in a letter, said: “The GSMA has hosted individuals and organisations for 34 years at Mobile World Congress (MWC). Throughout our time organising this event, the health and safety of our exhibitors and attendees have always been of paramount importance. Since the first edition of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2006, the GSMA has convened the industry, governments, ministers, policymakers, operators and industry leaders across the broader ecosystem.

“With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event.”
Although the deadly virus disease has killed thousands of Chinese, the cancellation has left many ICT companies in debts, having put a lot of preparations in place in terms of investments in new technologies that would have been showcased and sold at the venue this week.

President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Olusola Teniola, said: “The Corona virus has impacted the MWC event in Barcelona in many ways as losses have been accumulated by the Original Equipment Manufactures (OEMs) and GSM operators who are members of GSMA and have already paid for hotels, flights and accommodation and staff who have booked for the period.

“The impact on the Catalan economy is unquantifiable. 5G has been impacted in a qualitative way in that the brand awareness is nil due to the cancellation of the event. The biggest impact though is to the providers of trending technologies such as Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and 5G, who use the event that attract 100,000 attendees to promote the wide number of use cases that will drive the industry forward.”

Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, said: “I cannot place a figure on the financial losses because I do not have idea of the yearly turnover from Mobile World Congress, but however, I know ICT companies and intended participants must have lost so much of knowledge gap as a result of the cancellation because new investments and innovations must have been put in place in readiness for this year’s Mobile World Congress. Today the world is talking about 5G technology to speed up connectivity process and several countries are developing technology solutions that will run on 5G platform and most of the solutions, which come with lots of research and investments, would have been slated for showcase at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.”

Addressing the dangers arising from Corona Virus, Adebayo said “what is happening in China is already affecting several economies of the world because, apart from the fact that the world is now a global village, where every body is connected via the internet, China is a country to reckon with because of its impact on global economies.” According to him, current report showed that most economies of the world were beginning to fall short of supply of automobile spare parts as well as most manufactured products, because of the outbreak of Corona Virus in China.