The success of local content drive in the telecom and information and communication technology (ICT) in Nigeria would accelerate the progress of the sector, says the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON).
However, the Association believes that the possible way forward for the country to gain on international partnership is by drawing up comprehensive short and long-terms plans of engagements.
Mr. Olusola Teniola, president of ATCON made the remarks during a presentation at the recent Indo-Africa Expo (IT and Telecom Summit) held in Lagos, adding that ATCON noted since the inauguration of the Office of the Nigeria Local Content (ONC), there has been very little or no noticeable activity to drive the guidelines that were published back in 2013.
He said, “ATCON would like NCC and ONC to come up with concrete short and long-term implementable plans in partnership with India.
“Establishment of ICT Park: The Nigerian Government should encourage India should pool managerial and technical resources together for the establishment of an ICT Park in Nigeria. The ICT Park would be given the mandate to encourage the production of some ICT inputs like switches, router, and mobile phone repairs/assembly with some of our ATCON members that are already active in this space
“Educational Policies must be Refocused: Today in Nigeria, the number of people who want to study science related courses are small (and in most cases reducing) in relation to students who want to study commercial or social science related courses”.
The trend painted above, Teniola said, can never solve the country’s challenges, “therefore, we need to begin to redirect the focus of students on the need to study science related courses. The Federal Government should make studying of science courses interesting by providing a conducive learning environment and state of art laboratory equipment for students with a view to encouraging local content policy.
“Government should Increase the Budget of ICT The Federal Government should begin to focus more on other alternative means of generating income and their focus should be on increasing government spending and budget allocation to funding the ICT sector for the purpose of making its products and services exportable, thereby allowing it to contribute to our foreign earnings.
“Enactment of Appropriate ICT Policies: In order for the ICT sector to supplement or replace the Oil and Gas sector, strong policy frameworks which favour the sector must be put in place. It should be emphasized that the petroleum industry which used to be the cash cow for our nation (from a foreign exchange earning perspective) is not doing so well right now and this is a global issue.
“Already several countries in more advanced economies have declared that from 2030, use of hydrocarbons to run their vehicles will be significantly reduced or stopped”.
He said that the direct implication of this is that Nigeria may not be able to finance her budget without resulting to further government borrowing.
“ICT can as a matter of fact serve as the new cash cow for the country provided the right polices are put in place.
“ATCON would like to use this opportunity to seek the cooperation and strategic collaboration with India to organize some important local content driven programmes that would accelerate our local content with respect to the ICT sector.
“We are certain and confident that with all these proposed interventions we have shared and solutions being put in place, we can safely say that the ICT sector will contribute more significantly to our nation’s GDP with India’ support”, the ATCON President said.