Mr. Chidi Ibisi of Broadbased Communication Limited commends NCC for professionalism, makes case for special funds for ICT at ITU Telecom World 2016.
Impression on Nigeria's participation at the ITU
This is my first time of participating in this particular event with the Nigerian delegation. We as an organisation are impressed with the level of professionalism exhibited by the NCC led by the EVC, Professor Umar Danbatta. The staff have conducted themselves in a very professional manner. What we are doing in telecoms makes me very proud to be a Nigerian and the way NCC presented Nigeria to the global community is absolutely heart-warming.
Ease of doing business in Nigeria
There are challenges and opportunities in Nigeria. I think a lot of people just spend a lot of time focusing on those challenges. It's time we begin to look at the solutions; what we as individuals can do to make a difference. It is up to each and every one of us, despite the challenges to begin to make a difference in our own specific spheres of life. Nobody will build our great nation except us.
I can give you a long list of our challenges; with regard to electricity, right of way, taxation etc. Despite all these we need to build networks and we need to generate returns on investment. For us as operators, the biggest challenge is the cost of capital (high interest and exchange rates); for me these are very serious challenges.
Issues of taxation and the rest do not so much affect our bottom line as the exchange and interest rates. So if there's any area we actually want the government to intervene it has to be the cost of capital. We are providing critical network infrastructure that impact every sector of the economy whether agriculture, solid minerals, education because we have to develop our human capital; we must transform into a knowledge-based economy. Today, India generates more revenue from IT outsourcing services than we generate from oil. To build this human capital you need ICT infrastructure.
No one can say healthcare is not important but for you to deliver modern healthcare you need ICT infrastructure. This is also applicable in governance if we must reduce corruption and run government more efficiently. It also affects the generation and distribution of electricity. The Discos are running at a loss with respect to transmission losses in distribution of electricity. With smart grids which are ICT-based infrastructure you can reduce those losses. All these sectors are receiving some kind of concession with respect to interest rate and low interest source of capital. We should be allowed to access those kinds of funds so that we can impact the economy. The correlation between the penetrations of ICT in GDP is clearly proven worldwide.
If you were the President what would you do to deepen ICT now?
In Nigeria we have a Ministry and the different agencies of government that are there to implement these policies. We don't have the shortage of ideas and expertise in Nigeria. It is the will to implement those policies that is lacking and also create the environment for the private sector to be able to participate and provide those services for government. It is clear today that the resources are no longer there for the government to provide these services.
There should be emphasis on encouraging the private sector by having policies in place and committed people to implement those policies. But like I mentioned to you, you can have good policies and people to implement but if your ability to access is restricted then there's a major problem.
In order for us to come out of recession, instead of increasing the cost of capital, interest rate should be reduced, as it happened in the US and Europe. Central Banks of those nations dropped their interest rate to 1 per cent and some below 1 per cent, so that people could borrow, invest and stimulate investment. There's no capital out there and the CBN is more concerned about managing inflation but you have to fund yourself out of recession. You do not raise funds and put them into projects that do not stimulate the economy; we must stimulate the economy and economic activity.