It is an openly shared concern that the telecommunications industry should avoid the pitfalls of the petroleum industry. More than half a century after crude oil was discovered in commercial quantity in
People wish the nation to reap the full benefits of the telecommunications sector of the economy conferred by the economy of scale deriving from our population and market potentials.
Ebinimi Tebepah and Clement Inyambe, two Nigerian researchers have addressed this situation by posing the question: "What happens if suddenly foreign companies operating in the sector disengage? What implication will this have for the telecommunications sector?
In order to avoid the pitfalls of the oil industry reoccurring in the telecommunications sector, a conscious policy direction should be in development of human skills and technological competences to fill in the gaps in the sector. This will prevent the over-dependence on foreigners and expatriates, as well as (low indigenous technological capabilities) as evident in the oil industry from occurring in the sector.
In a paper titled "Local
Government should formulate a clear operational definition of the local content policy development of the telecommunications sector in
This should involve the restructuring and proper funding of secondary and tertiary education; research and development, training and skilled manpower development in the sector;
Government and the private operators in the telecommunications sector should establish a world class research institute that will be involved in the development of high tech innovations within the shores of the country.
This institute should be properly equipped with qualified personnel to carry out such tasks; Government should encourage collaboration between foreign operators and local indigenous companies in the area of technological development; and Government should ensure a seamless connection between the telecommunications sector and other sectors of the economy such as Power and Steel, Oil and Gas, Education, Transportation and so on.
Too often, an unstable policy environment has been cited as a major disincentive for investment - both foreign and local.
However, the environment for investment in
It has become a carrot with which foreign investors are attracted to
Recent surveys have put subscription to mobile telephony at over 116 million. Meanwhile, about 47 million Nigerians have access to online internet services.
But the NCA has also armed NCC with the legal wherewithal to foster discipline, professionalism and competitiveness in the industry. It is believed by some to be one of the most progressive laws in the country, to the extent that it allows NCC to regulate the industry according to the best global practices as enshrined by the
The Commission is therefore in a position to undertake a variety of frequency auctions that will come up until 2015. This will give millions of more Nigerians access to telecommunication services. Juwah says: "Broadband technology will enable Nigerians enjoy data services by opening up new vistas of competition in the industry."
However, despite all the efforts that NCC is making to encourage investment in the sector, the terrain remains dominated by foreign investors.
Of the current licensed operators of mobile telephony (GSM), only
So the question is: what are indigenous Nigerian investors waiting for before taking the plunge into an industry that is the largest and fastest growing in
* Chukwu, a business analyst, writes from
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