Expert Seeks Stakeholders’ Collaboration on ICT Development

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Isa Pantami

The Chief Executive Officer of Backbone Connectivity Network (BCN), Mr. Ibrahim Dikko, has called for collaboration between the government, its agencies, and players in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, in order to address the challenges facing the industry.

Dikko, who made the call while speaking with journalists in Lagos recently, said the collaboration became necessary, given the current challenges hindering ICT development in the country.

Dikko, who decried the current gap that existed between industry players and the government, blamed the situation on lack of collaboration between both parties, adding that this has created myriads of challenges such as multiple taxation and difficulties in getting the Right of Way (RoW) permit.

“If the industry players and the government work together, there won’t be issues of an agency shutting down base stations or cutting fibre cables during road construction. We must realise that technology business is a national business.

“It is a business that transforms the economy, hence, the players, who are mostly from the private sector must be seen as partners in progress by the government. There must be a synergy between the private and public sectors,” Dikko said.

Dikko noted that with the recent fall in the price of crude oil, which is the main source of the nation’s economy, Nigeria must realise that it has no other option than to diversify by leveraging technology.

However, he said transforming the economy with technology would only be realised if governments at all levels understand this need and collaboratively work towards the goal with the industry players.

He, therefore commended the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, for his recent initiatives aimed at building a digital economy. He expressed confidence that the digital strategy currently being implemented by the Minister would transform the nation’s economy if supported by all stakeholders, stressing that collaboration in this area is also key.

According to him, the umbrella body of all players in the ICT industry, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), has taken a bold step in this regard through its forthcoming National Dialogue on Telecoms and ICT. The event scheduled to hold March 26 in Abuja, he said, would create the opportunity for governments, their agencies and the private sector operators to forge collaborations towards achieving the common goal of ICT development in Nigeria.

The Backbone Connectivity CEO also applauded the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) for their respective roles in sustaining a vibrant telecoms and technology industry in Nigeria.

ATCON is an advocacy group that brought innovation to the ICT industry, through various proposals it sent to government, some of which were implemented for the growth of the economy. ATCON, last year, proposed another five-year National Broadband Plan for Nigeria, with a target to achieve 70 per cent broadband penetration, following the expiration of the first National Broadband Plan that surpassed its target of 30 per cent broadband penetration in December 2018. Based on ATCON’s proposal, the Federal Government set up a broadband committee, with the mandate to come up with a National Broadband Plan for 2020-2025, and the report had since been submitted.