ATCON Tasks Nigerian Government to Begin Digitizing the Economy

Sourced from the Guardian Nigeria.

The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has charged the Federal Government to begin the digitization of the nation’s economy.

The association stressed the importance and crucial need for the government to map out fresh plans that would assist the country cope with economic challenges post-COVID-19 pandemic.

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Olusola Teniola, president of ATCON, told The Guardian Nigeria that every sector of the Nigerian economy should brace for the challenges ahead, stressing that information and communication technology (ICT) would be strategic in diversifying and digitising the economy going forward.

Teniola makes clear that the association would begin organising a virtual conversation to begin discussing the socio-economic and political impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Telecommunications and ICT sector in Nigeria. The meetings will be held over Zoom, he says. First of which will take place on 4 June.

He says that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the livelihoods and businesses socially, economically and politically. This has the unintended effect of making the country realise that it could not rely on crude oil, Teniola says.

“For example, the price of crude oil in the international market fell below the benchmark prize of 2020 budget and the Federal Government has resorted to borrowing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to cushion the effect of the fall in the price of crude oil in the international market.”

“To salvage the situation, there is an urgent need for collaboration public and private sectors collaboration to jumpstart the diversification and emergence of digitisation of the Nigerian economy,” he states.

This comes as the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) activated about 1.96-million new telecommunications line in the month of March. The new subscriptions, which was about 500,000 over and above what the operators saw in February (about 1.41m), was not unconnected with Federal Government’s lockdown measures due to COVID-9, which saw more people having to work from home with the aid of Internet data.

Teniola says that there would also be the need to push for the buy-in of government at all levels to encourage telecoms and ICT infrastructure development in their respective states by encouraging investments through tax holidays and special intervention funds for the sector by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Edited by Luis Monzon

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