Full text of speech by Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta at official opening of Nigeria Pavilion in South Korea


Honourable Minister of Communications of Nigeria, Barrister Abdulraheem Adebayo Shittu,

Chairman of the NCC Board of Commissioners, Distinguished Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye,

Members of the NCC Board of Commissioners,

His Excellency, Mr. Houlin Zhao, Secretary General of ITU,

Ambassador of Nigeria to South Korea,

Distinguished Senators and Honourable House of Representative members present here,

Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Captains of Industry,

Management of the ITU,

Gentlemen of the Press,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I welcome you warmly to the Nigeria Pavilion in the ITU Telecom World 2017, Busan. I want to thank all of you especially the management of ITU led by its Secretary General, His Excellency Houlin Zhao, the People and Government of South Korea, the host city, Busan and all the industry players from Nigeria and other nations here present.

Our country, Nigeria is proud to be a part of the ITU in whose activities we always actively participate.

We come to the ITU Telecom World every year to tell our story, share our experiences and borrow a leaf from global best practices to address our concerns, engage and collaborate with the global community to strengthen the growth and impact of the Nigerian Telecoms Industry.

We therefore come to enlist the support of other players, governments, regulators and the global community from whom there is always a basket of ideas to take back home to Nigeria. The implementation of these ideas will ensure a better regulatory environment, even though ours has been seen as a very robust and consultative regulatory agency right from 2001 when the Digital Mobile Licences (DML) were issued.

The spirit of cooperation and consultation is very high at ITU Telecom World events.

While it is true that different people come with different notions to ITU Telecom World, the end result is to better serve our people, deploy resources to address access gaps in underserved and unserved communities in our various jurisdictions.

Our engagement with the global community during this event will include creating awareness of the investment opportunities in Africa’s biggest Telecom market, as well as guarantee of adequate Returns on Investments (RoIs).

In this connection, we are here to tell the ICT community that Nigeria with a population of about 170 million is a preferred investment destination in Africa.

With over 150 million active subscribers, in the voice segment, over 102 percent teledensity and a little over 92 million internet connections, Nigeria is indeed a place to invest.

The ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for sustainable development recently said Nigeria now has about 21% broadband penetration and conscious of the reality that broadband fuels faster data transmission speed and capacity, our focus now is on how we can attract the right investments to grow this critical area of the sector through broadband coverage expansion.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as a foremost regulator, has put in place measures and guidelines to licence wholesale broadband service providers consistent with the Open Access Model for broadband deployment. Of the seven infrastructure companies (Infracos) earmarked for licensing, only two have so far been licensed for Lagos which is commercial hub of Nigeria, and Abuja including the North Central zone of the country leaving five more licences for the South West, South East, South South, North East and North West zones of the country. The process of licensing of infracos for these five remaining zones is about to be concluded.

In our firm resolve to strengthen institutions of corporate governance for telcos, woo investors and guarantee returns on their investments, the NCC, in consultation with industry stakeholders introduced a mandatory Code of Corporate Governance as guide to managers and boards of telecommunications companies. The code outlines minimum global best practices covering processes, procedures and general corporate behaviour for telecommunications industry players.

When we rolled out the 8-point agenda in 2016, it was predicated on the change mantra of the new democratic government in Nigeria led by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR. It is premised on facilitating broadband penetration, improving quality of service, optimizing usage and benefits of spectrum, promoting ICT investment and innovation, facilitating strategic partnership, promoting fair and inclusive growth and ensuring regulatory excellence and operational efficiency. Because we recognize the importance of ICT to national development that is why growing this sector has been top on our agenda. Hence, ladies and gentlemen, permit me to say that despite our modest achievements, Nigeria ICT sector is work in progress.

I invite you later this afternoon to the Nigerian Investment Forum with Broadband Nigeria as the theme, where experts and knowledgeable people about the Nigerian investment environment will talk some more on the investment opportunities in Africa’s largest economy.

Remember, ladies and gentlemen, that we are already in the era of Internet of Things (IoTs) where every sector of our economy will depend on telecoms infrastructure to maximally operate.

Remember too that all sectors of every national economy have become dependent on the telecommunications sector and failure on the sector would have far reaching negative ramifications to other sectors hence the need to build capacity in the sector.

Members of the Nigerian delegation will be on ground here in our Pavilion and investment forum to network and give you firsthand information about Nigeria.

In 16 years since the Digital Mobile Licences (DML) were issued, investment in the sector has hit about $70Billion from a mere $50million in 2001. Most of these investments are Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).

Although, we have made very modest progress in the sector, we still need to deepen investments to make broadband pervasive in the country.

We are at 21 percent now and our target is to hit 30 percent by 2018, consistent with the National Broadband Plan.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your attention.