By Omobayo Azeez
The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) is a strategic partner to achieve improved telecoms standard and digital economy agenda Nigeria, Wale Abu, the chief executive officer of Pan African Towers Limited (PAT) has said.
He said during an interaction with journalists in Lagos that ATCON remains in the forefront of efforts and commitment geared at improving the standard of Nigeria’s telecommunications industry as it impacts on other sectors.
Abu, a telecoms expert, explained that the trajectory of ATCON, the umbrella body of telecoms operators in the country, shows that the association has always been a critical party to various strategic initiatives on digital inclusion, which makes its role in the new digital economy drive of the government more pronounced.
“As the government embarks on another epochcal adventure of digital economy, the role of ATCON has been connotatively spelt out and association, just as in the past, has pledged its unwavering support to Minister Ali Isa Pantami of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, who spearheads the agenda.”
Recall that following the unveiling of the National Policy for Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a digital Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari sometimes last year, the minister on December 16, 2019 had inaugurated the National Broadband Plan Committee with a mandate to ensure that the nation attains the 70 per cent broadband target by 2025.
Abu emphasized that the operators, under the aegis of ATCON, are directly tied to this agenda and have immense role to play in realizing the digital economy drive.
He said he could envisage more collaborative engagements between ATCON relevant government’s ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), particularly the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy in the areas of innovation and access on operators’ side and conducive and balanced policies on the part of the ministry.
According to him, “There is no doubt that the coming together of telecoms operators in Nigeria under the aegis of ATCON as helped in no small measure to drive development of the sector. The association has always been a partner in progress with the government in all fronts as far as delivery of good quality of service is concerned.
“Just recently, the digital economy policy of the country was unveiled by the federal government and the association quickly identified its role in bringing the policy to fruition.
“Every pillar upon which the policy is predicated requires full participation of ATCON’s members. This further underscores the need for more collaboration by ATCON and the federal ministry of communications and digital economy which champions the course.
“The drive to deepen broadband penetration in the country to at least 70 per cent by 2021 is now a big agenda before the government and the operators. While the government is expected to man the regulatory and policy end of the process, the operators remain the field agents to ensure the execution of the policy.
“The coordination of these operators, a responsibility shouldered by ATCON also remains critical to achieving digital inclusion goals of the country.”
Abu further stated that ATCON should keep working in collaboration with such agencies as the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), among others to take the country’s telecoms sector to a new height.
The PAT boss further hinted that ATCON will have more roles to play at the moment and in the future than it had in the past, given the widely recognized functions of telecoms as enabler of economic growth, cyber security and emerging dynamic initiatives such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
“The telecoms industry is dynamic and is, in fact, set to witness more disruptive changes in few years. For instance, subscribers are increasing and the onus of serving them satisfactorily lies with telecoms company. ATCON will have to double its advocacy, collaborations and contributions to critical issues for the industry to remain respected in Africa and the world over,” he explained.
Frontpage January 14, 2020