A new study by the Emerging Technologies Research Unit, Research and Development Department of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has established the need for the government to grant duty waivers on telecommunications equipment importations.
This, the report of the study, said would help the country address the current infrastructure deficiency in the sector. According to the report, despite increasing contributions to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Nigeria is far from realising the full impacts of telecommunications on the economy due to inadequate infrastructure.
The researchers noted that their findings revealed that Nigeria’s technology base had not yet been able to provide sustained economic development for the nation. “These infrastructure inadequacies have affected growth and development of Nigeria’s economy and acted as a barrier to the rollout of Nigeria’s technological and industrial aspirations.
Furthermore, the research revealed that technological advancement factors are not being adequately addressed as key enablers of economic development. “It was discovered that Nigeria has inadequacies in its technological development efforts.
These were discovered in areas of technology transfer agreements, research and development (R&D) funding, technical education, corruption, and other economic development factors,” the researchers stated in the report. They, however, noted that these shortcomings could be remedied in order to make technology a tool in enhancing the nation’s economic development.
“As a solution, the following are proposed policies and strategies recommendations for government in addressing these infrastructure challenges.
“Government and policymakers are encouraged to develop and implement sustainable models that support Government investment in critical ICT/Technology infrastructure. Government and policymakers should also encourage the emergence of regional infrastructure companies that understand the regional terrain and can help build out the necessary ICT infrastructure.
“To improve upon the existing infrastructural base, governments should encourage more private sector-led investments through the provision of necessary incentives and waivers such as import duty concession, reduced bank loan interest rates, amongst others.
The government should continue to support and monitor the implementation of a local telecommunications hardware manufacturing industry. “The NCC should actively pursue the implementation of active infrastructure sharing, which would be an alternative that would lower the cost of network deployment.
This will cut down the cost of building and maintaining the infrastructure. In view of the paucity of industry information for policy planning and regulatory rule-making, the NCC should consider the award of a consultancy on the impact of infrastructure deficiency on the level of technology penetration in Nigeria.
The commission should monitor and sanction telecoms operators who fail to carry out their universal service obligations as contained in their licence documents.” Amidst the infrastructure challenge, ICT emerged as one of the major drivers of the economy last year, contributing 15.05 per cent to the country’s GDP.
But while industry stakeholders had commended the increasing contributions of the sector to the country’s GDP, they also drew the government’s attention to the need for more infrastructure as well as the need for favourable policies to improve on the gains.
According to the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators (ALTON), Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, to sustain the gains, the country would need to continue to invest in network expansion and maintenance operations, access to foreign exchange to procure network critical equipment, consistency in policy, and policy environment.
Adebayo said there should be access to spectrum and friendly policies around its allocation, assignment, and cooperation between the stakeholders. Similarly, the President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies (ATCON), Engr. Ikechukwu Nnamani, had also recently called for special infrastructure financing to address the deficiency in the industry.