The Association of Telecommunications Companies in Nigeria (ATCON) says Nigeria requires over N15trillion to bridge the infrastructure funding gap for the telecom/ICT industry.
The President of the Association, Mr. Ikechukwu Nnamani, disclosed this, yesterday, when he led other newly elected National Executive Council of the Association on a familiarization visit to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, in his office in Abuja.
He said that the visit was predicated on the need to introduce and familiarize with the minister, who had shown a lot of commitment and determination in addressing issues that the ICT industry is saddled with and to deliberate with the minister on key issues affecting the industry and the economy.
Nnamani, who commended the minister for his loadable initiatives that have brought unprecedented growth to the industry, urged the minister to do more in ensuring that the digital infrastructure gaps are closed and to enable the country to tap into the huge benefits of the digital economy.
The ATCON President further explained that the primary objective of the association targeted programs is to compliment the concerted efforts of the ministry in respect of making broadband pervasive and ubiquitous as well as to encourage state governments and private sector to aid the growth and development through strategic investment in technology and broadband in their respective states.
He said, ‘‘Your timely intervention has led to the growth and development that the ICT sector has witnessed since you were sworn in as minister.
‘‘This visited as put together to demonstrate the respect that we have for you and your office as records are there to show that the development of the sector is highly paramount in your strategic plans. Challenges that have plagued the industry for a very long time are now being addressed by you and your team. Notable among this is the progress made in the National Identity Number (NIN), Right of Way (RoW) and the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), and digitization of the economy.
‘‘More recent is the groundbreaking of the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre in Abuja. The new NEC and the entire ATCON members are poised to work with you and your ministry to make your tenure a highly remarkable one in the history of the Nigerian telecom and ICT sector.
‘‘The primary and strategic objective of our targeted programs is to compliment your concerted efforts in respect of making broadband pervasive and ubiquitous as well as to encourage state governments and private sector to aid the growth and development through their deliberate and strategic investment in technology and broadband in their respective states.
‘‘We remain committed to contributing our quota to the growth and development of the country and looking forward towards working closely with you.’’
He listed some of the ATCON’s goals and request for support for 2021/2022 as full implementation of the 2020-2025 NNBP; development of the strategic plan to bridge the over N15trillion infrastructure funding gap for the telecom/ICT industry; full implementation of the RoW policy and to address multiple taxations and other regulatory challenges.
The ATCON was formally inaugurated on December 10, 1993, as a professional, non-profit, non-political umbrella organization of telecommunications companies in Nigeria.
Responding, the minister said his ministry decided to reactivate the NIMC Act on NIN after many years of neglect because it remains key to our national planning, budget planning, security and social development and many more.
He insisted that the NIN remains mandatory and the primary means of the identity of our citizens and all legal residents and there’s no other identity that can define citizens more than that number, it is mandatory.
‘‘I’m excited at your presentation why the Association was established and your willingness to join hand with the federal government of Nigeria through the office of the minister in charge of communications, most importantly in the area of NIN which is a mandatory number based on NIMC Act of 2007 that has actively been neglected for years it is also the foundational ID for building a digital economy.
‘‘It is key to our national planning, budget planning, national planning, security and social development, and many more. But it was neglected to be a mandatory one. So, we’ve come up with so many policies trying to ensure our citizens obtain the number, it is important beyond SIM registration, it is important for whatever you do.
‘‘Because it is the primary identity of our citizens, there’s no identity that will define you are a citizen more than that number, it is mandatory. And it is mandatory for the transaction, as an opening bank account, like paying tax, voter registration, and many more.
‘‘If you look at section 27 it is clearly stated even to partake and enjoy government services without that number it is an offence, you must obtain before you engage the government in any business.
Section 29 of the act says that if you fail to do that and you do transactions you have committed a crime that will lead to imprisonment.
‘‘We will always ensure that citizens obtain it, the law only gives you 60 days to obtain from the time it was approved.
‘‘On achievement on RoW, as I earlier said, when there is any lack of compliance with our agreement through Nigerian Governor’s Forum under the chairmanship of the governor of Ekiti State when there is such let me know I will engage the Nigerian governor’s forum and National Economic Council, don’t compromise. If you compromise in one state there is a high probability you will compromise in another state, but if you resist it is better for us.
‘‘I don’t believe in one-man business, we are all stakeholders and we must work together for the success of the industry. I can’t do it alone and I can never deceive myself that I can do it alone. It is because of this I always urge stakeholders to let us work together to undo the best we can to take the sector to greater heights. Most probably it is the most important sector in the country; it could be the most important.
‘‘Our contribution to the GDP is always unprecedented; we are making a huge difference. Just ICT alone not to talk of the digital economy, if you add ICT sector plus digital services then definitely there is no doubt that no sector will contribute half of what we’ve been contributing to the GDP.
“But today, and some of them are neglected, not computed, some of them are added to financial services but they are supposed to be under digital economy so, that it will be digital economy plus ICT sector. We will try to ensure that it is corrected.’’
Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road
No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.
By: Taneh Beemene
Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank
The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.
Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms
Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.
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