While the growth in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry share of the GDP in the second quarter of 2020 can be attributed a drop in economic activities in other sectors during the period of the lockdown, recent NBS data show there was actually more than a N500bn growth in the telecommunications sector.
The Guardian had recently reported that the contribution of the telecoms sector increased to N2.272trn, up from N1.821trn in the first quarter of the year.
National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), data showed the increase to be 31.43 percent.
While the entire ICT sector recorded 17.83 per cent in the second quarter, the 14.30 per cent contribution of the telecoms sub-sector was unprecedented, far and above oil and gas, and other non-oil sectors’.
In 2015, telecoms’ contribution to GDP stood at eight per cent and has grown significantly quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year to reach the current milestone of 14.30 percent.
The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, listed critical regulatory actions that have been taken by the Commission to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on quality of service (QoS) delivery by the networks to telecom consumers.
Danbatta enumerated the measures while speaking at the first edition of the Virtual Telecom Consumer Parliament (V-TCP) hosted by the Commission in Abuja on Friday, 21st August, 2020 with the theme: “Impact of Covid-19 on Telecoms Service Delivery.”
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Citing an International Telecommunications Union (ITU) report, the EVC said with the pandemic, some telecom operators and platforms were reporting demand spike, especially in data usage and volume of calls, as high as 800 per cent since the outbreak of the pandemic.
NCC, in conjunction with the supervising Ministry developed e-platforms to handle all requests from the licensees to ensure that regulatory services are provided to sustain service delivery to subscribers.
The Commission approved and encouraged resource sharing among network operators and secured Right of Passage (RoP) for all telecommunications companies and suppliers for easy movement during the lockdown. These measures enabled the operators to service their base stations and ensured seamless services for telecom consumers who increasingly relied on the networks during the pandemic.
Danbatta said the NCC working with the ministry was resolving the problem of high cost of Right of Way (RoW) with the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), adding that, through such engagements, the state governors have lent their support for a robust broadband infrastructure.
He said, “The Commission is hopeful that with the reduction in RoW, which will automatically result in reduction in capital expenditure (CAPEX) by the network operators, teleco: m companies will sooner than later reciprocate the gesture by making their services more affordable to Nigerians.”
He said regulatory efforts had also resulted in a Presidential approval directing Security Agencies to protect Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and telecom facilities as critical national assets. He said this has helped to safeguard telecom infrastructure for the greater role telecom has to play with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Effective regulatory regime, backed by various initiatives of the Commission and efforts of the supervising Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy at addressing industry challenges, is providing the needed digital valves that have supported the economy from collapse, since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The increase in broadband penetration, Internet usage, number of access to telephone and several other initiatives by the Commission, especially in the areas of driving tech innovations, employment creation, promotion of digital inclusiveness, which are policy directions of NCC, an industry regulator, has, in the last five years, boosted the sector’s contribution to GDP.