ATCON hosts Sectoral Virtual Forum, focuses on new broadband target of 70%

From Cyriacus Nnaji, Lagos

Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has concluded plans to organize a Sectoral Virtual Forum that would address the need of telecom and ICT Consumers in the COVID-19 and Post COVID-19 Pandemic cum Digital Economy era with the principal goal of meeting the new broadband target of 70%.

The date for the Virtual Forum which will be live on Facebook and other Social Media platforms is scheduled to hold on Thursday, August 6, 2020, time 10 am, and has the theme, “Meeting the Interests of Government, Consumers and Telecom & ICT Companies in the Era of COVID-19 and Post Covid-19 Pandemic for Digital Economy Development”.

In a press statement signed by the Executive Secretary, ATCON Ajibola Olude, the centrality of consumer to the projected growth of the Nigerian telecoms and ICT Sector cannot be overlooked in the area of the needed investment to accelerate the progress of the sector, adding that with the emergence of digital economy in Nigeria coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, many economic transactions would be done digitally going forward.

“This time around ATCON is providing a veritable platform for Governments, Consumers (corporate and personal) and Telecommunications and ICT Companies to rob minds on how consumers can be better off in terms of effective delivery of telecoms and ICT services and products in Nigeria,” the statement disclosed.

The statement went further to reveal that in actualizing the dream of giving Nigerian telecoms and ICT consumers a place in the heart of Governments and Telecoms and ICT Companies, all hands must be on deck. “Governments must make laws that encourage further investment into the sector, telecommunications and ICT companies must make consumers satisfaction their priority and the consumers must support the telecoms and ICT companies by requesting government to relax its exorbitant taxes and levies.”

It also stated that telecoms and ICT companies must be able to buy Forex directly from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

In addition, the statement reiterated that the Nigeria’s Telecom Sector has witnessed two major important developments. It said that President Muhammadu Buhari, on October 23, 2019 renamed the ministry which supervises the Telecoms and ICT Sector to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and further expand its mandate to capture the goals of digitalization of the Nigerian economy in line with the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP) and the global outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The release stressed that these two important developments will form the basis of the continued development of the Telecoms and ICT Sector in few years to come.

It said that the anticipated growth and development of this sector is hinged on the role of the government in terms of regulation and policy directions, the telecom and ICT companies and finally the end users (consumers).

Further, the statement said that ATCON is conventionally committed to the continuous progress of the Nigerian telecoms and ICT Sector plans to use the sectoral forum to proffer lasting solutions as well as galvanize support from the government, telecom companies and the consumers in the era of COVID-19 and Post COVID-19 for Digital Economy Development and increasing the contributions of the sector geometrically to Nigeria’s GDP by considering some of the challenges of these catalysts of development with a view to solving them.

The strategic objectives of the very important sectoral forum among others include: to converge regulator’s Interests, to ensure a competitive telecom market and fast track development of telecom industry; Operator’s Interests which is to create an enabling environment for businesses and protection of investment in the sector; and Consumer’s Interests which will be satisfied in terms of quality of services, affordability and access; for Digital Economy Development.

It said that the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) will constitute the role of the government, adding that all members of ATCON and Players in the industry will constitute the role of the Operators.

While National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS), Consumer Rights Awareness Advancement And Advocacy Initiative (CRAAAI), Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN), Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Nigerian Bar Association, Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), National Universities Commission, etc will constitute the role of the consumers.

The statement said “The interdependence among the government, telecom and ICT Companies and Nigerians are clearly obvious but each of them have limitations and potentials, hence the forum would make an attempt to address their limitations and turn them to advantage for the development of Nigerian Telecom and ICT Sector in the era of COVID-19 and Post COVID-19 Pandemic.”

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