Leverage on ICT to boost economy, reap benefits of AfCFTA, stakeholder tasks telecom operators

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BY FESTUS OKOROMADU

Uba Group

Operators in the Nigerian telecom industry have been charged to leverage on the opportunity provided by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement to boost the nation’s economy.

Managing Director Nonicoms Telecommunications, Umar Abdullahi, stated this while speaking with journalists in Abuja on Friday.

He however, emphasized that existing challenges facing the sector must be conquered by operators through determination, patience, consistency, and doing the right thing.

“The telecom industry can hardly be projected in a lighter mood. It will be more result-driven. It will develop advanced and innovative technologies to create an easy and safe solution for customers. It is the future and what the future holds economically and socially,” he said.

The AfCFTA is aimed at creating Africa’s continent-wide free trade area that could generate greater economic benefits than previously estimated and raise incomes by nine per cent by 2035 and lift 50 million people out of extreme poverty.

“Undoubtedly, communication is a basic requirement in the smooth flow of business, especially in Africa. The AfCFTA is a tool that can be leveraged on by service providers for the success of the programme.

“Telecom service providers can make a whole lot of impact on the digital economy in Africa through promotion of the AfCFTA. We can make life easier for both business people and their wide customer base in Africa,’’ he said.

Abdullahi added that Nonicoms was out to increase result-driven technology in the industry as well as to develop advanced and innovative technologies for its customers.

“We will provide free voice service on our landlines and mobile apps, free IPTV/OTT and excellent internet services with high speed and low latency, affordability, and new innovations that will support the Internet of Things.

“We will also provide a purposeful innovation through high speed broadband of more than 100mbps at an unbeatable price that addresses everyday communication challenges in homes and businesses,’’ he said.

The Nigeria Communication Commission recognises that the agreement would allow access to extend communications services to 1.2 billion people across the African continent.

With a larger proportion of this population made up of young people, whose hunger for data and mobile services continues to grow, there is no limit of achievement for innovative operators and investors in terms of business opportunities.

There are many forms of trade in goods or services that can be fully or partly carried out through different ICT-based mechanisms, which previously were provided only through offline ways of trading.

Digitalisation also affects trade in many other ways. This is why the agenda of trade and digitalisation has gained attention in various trade policy forums, including the AfCFTA and WTO.

Abdullahi urged stakeholders in the communication sector to provide support and encouragement for start-ups, ensure consistent government policies, as well as funds from the Nigerian Financial sector.