Funke Opeke says the government isn’t doing much to support ICT sector efforts in Nigeria
In an interview session with Funke Opeke, the Chief Executive Officer of MainOne, she revealed to Punch that the government is responsible for the slow progress of the broadband penetration process.
Only 21% was achieved last year and the government had made a promise to reach a target of 30% by the end of this year. However, Mrs. Opeke said that this landmark is not laudable because, in fact, Nigeria is lagging behind in terms of tech progression. The 30% which the ATCON is clamouring for was a plan which was developed in 2013 during former President, Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and at this moment, is yet to be underway.
The 30% broadband objective is only targeted at boosting high-speed internet which in numerous ways, will enhance the country’s economic growth and perhaps, stabilise the nation’s ailing financial status. The plans for things to be in place started well with the government urging the operators involved to fill in gaps in national infrastructure, which would involve critical regional and metropolitan area networks. It’s quite unfortunate, however, that only two out of the seven licensed areas have been awarded since then- MainOne for Lagos zone and the HIS for the North-Central.
Even so, none of these two awardees have been able to commence work due to the absence of permits. As the CEO puts it, “we are only playing lip-service to 30% broadband implementation”. What this implies is that the government is not rendering any support to implement a laid down policy. Although the Nigerian Communications Commission has been addressing the challenge, the government’s support surpasses every campaign.
The CEO, MainOne further expressed her concern about the nation’s decline in global ICT ranking. Seeing that the ICT sector has been contributing largely to the country’s GDP since the fallout in the oil sector which is yet at the brink of a total collapse, it will be a total fiasco if the ICT sector follows suit. She said:
“It is important we expedite critical elements of the broadband plan to address our recent decline in global ICT rankings as published by the International Telecommunication Union where Nigeria was rated 143rd globally, and 15th in Africa behind South Africa, Kenya, Gabon, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Cote d’Ivoire. Nigeria has no business lagging behind, especially at a time when we want to transform our economy and so many of our youths are unemployed. If we cannot use technology to change the narrative, I wonder what hope there is once the oil market totally collapses.”
In so many ways, the delay in licensing other infrastructure companies will affect the objectives of the National Broadband Plan. Aside from the fact that the plan will not be achieved with this as a major setback, local entrepreneurs will not have the opportunity to connect with global investors and on a larger scale, there will be little or no direct inflow of foreign investments which could increase employment rate in the country. Unfortunately, the country will continue to suffer the drastic consequences.