The Nigerian telecoms industry, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has enthusiastically welcomed the expansion of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to include the crucial element of “Innovation.” President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s decision to appoint Mr. Bosun Tijani, a figure with a strong IT background, as the new Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy has been met with widespread approval.
ATCON President, Tony Emoekpere, expressed the association’s delight at this forward-looking choice. “We at ATCON welcome the appointment of Mr. Bosun Tijani as the new Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy and we congratulate him on his appointment. It is encouraging that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu appointed a person with an IT background to the post, and the fact that he is relatively young shows that a dynamic approach to the industry is being targeted,” Emoekpere stated.
The addition of “Innovation” to the ministry’s title is seen as a significant indicator of the government’s intentions for the communication industry. Emoekpere noted, “Of note also is the addition of ‘Innovation’ to the title of the Ministry. It is a further pointer to the direction the current government intends to take in the communication industry. Considering one of the promises of a million digital jobs, a lot of innovation is truly required.”
However, Emoekpere also acknowledged the fundamental challenges still plaguing the industry, particularly at the infrastructure level. He emphasized that without resolving these challenges, success in the application layers where most digital jobs reside will be elusive. The key areas of concern include the development, security, and expansion of communication infrastructure throughout the country. A solid infrastructure base is deemed essential for the development and expansion of innovative digital services, especially in currently underserved areas.
The industry faces several hurdles, including funding, security, and permitting issues, although regulatory bodies such as the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and the National Digital Planning Commission (NDPC) have made strides in addressing these concerns. ATCON’s areas of focus include advocating for the creation of a special foreign exchange window for telecoms operators, the passage of the Critical National Infrastructure Bill into law, implementation of agreements on Right of Way, and addressing issues related to multiple taxation and regulation.
Recognizing that the success of the new Minister is intertwined with the industry’s success, ATCON has recommended the establishment of an Industry Think Tank Team to expedite growth and development in the sector. The association believes that the Minister would benefit from the expertise of industry associations to accelerate progress, efficiency, and effectiveness within the Nigerian Telecom and ICT Sector