President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to splash great incentives in the path of investors in the nation's telecom market. He made the promise in Bangkok, Thailand at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Telecom World conference.
The President who was represented by the minister of communication, Barr Adebayo Shittu, said Nigeria presents the highest return on investment and urged investors to take advantage of the huge market that Nigeria offers. He listed areas of investment to include deployment of broadband infrastructure, internet provision, equipment manufacturing and assembly, content development, e-applications namely e-government, e-learning etc. He said the testimony of old investors in the Nigerian market is enough to encourage new entrants.
The Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, in his goodwill message said what is being celebrated as telecom revolution in Nigeria started when he and his team at the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) got the nod of former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, to invite UK-based Vodafone to Nigeria at a symbolic cost of $1 for a nationwide GSM licence. According to him, Vodafone turned down the offer, saying that Nigeria market was not profitable and would not support the kind of expansion associated with the company.
According to him, the same licence that was rejected by Vodafone for $1 was auctioned at $285 million each to MTN, Econet and others. This, according to him, attests to the resilience of the Nigerian market. He urged new investors to look to the growth of the old investors as a motivation to invest in Nigeria.
For ITU Secretary General, Houlin Zhao, Nigeria remains one of the most promising telecom markets in the world. He said the ITU would be willing to offer all necessary assistant to Nigeria to help her grow the telecom market and extend services to the rural communes.
Mr Zhao rated Nigeria Africa's most dynamic telecom market and one of the fastest growing in the world and said he looks forward to the day Nigeria would host the ITU World Telecom, the annual global telecom festival organised by the United Nations telecom body in concert with member nations.
Answering a reporter's question on why no African nation has ever hosted the global event Mr Zhao said it was not out of disrespect that no African nation has ever hosted the yearly event but that no African nation has approached the ITU to host the usually well-attended event. He however hinted that Ethiopia had made inquiries with the ITU on the possibility of hosting the biggest telecom festival in the world which attracts global telecom service providers, equipment manufacturers, vendors, investors, regulators, media and telecom consumers.
Mr. Zhao said he would be pleased if Nigeria could host the event in view of the country's rising profile in global telecom but wondered if the country has the requisite facility to host the world telecom community. Asian and European countries have in recent years been the dominant hosts of the event.
Also speaking at the investment forum after the formal opening of the Nigeria Pavilion, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta, said investment opportunities exist in abundance in broadband deployment which currently stands at 21%. He said the key nuggets of his 8-point agenda was ubiquitous deployment of broadband infrastructure and services which will trigger massive development of other sectors.
Professor Danbatta assured investors that Nigeria offers one of the highest returns on investment, stressing that those who invested in the market in the early days of the Digital Mobile Licence auction are still counting their luck as they have continued to reap the rewards of their confidence in the market.
Earlier, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presided over the opening ceremony of ITU Telecom World 2016 at IMPACT Muang Thong Thani exhibition centre.
Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha delivered his report to HRH Princess Sirindhorn at the opening ceremony . Thailand and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have joined hands to host the ITU Telecom World 2016 under the theme "Collaborating in the digital economy".