By Samuel Bankole
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that the N70 billion interconnectivity indebtedness posed a big challenge to infrastructure expansion in the nation’s telecoms industry.
The NCC executive vice-chairman, Umar Garba Danbatta urged telecom operators in the country to settle the huge interconnect debts being owed by various industry operators to free some funds for the growth of the sector.
Danbatta, who spoke at a stakeholders’ meeting said the huge debt should be resolve in the best interest of the industry and the economy.
“Interconnectivity indebtedness valued at over N70 billion is a big challenge to infrastructure expansion and inimical to healthy competition,” which are needed for facilitating digital economy in Nigeria.
While representing the minister of communication and digital economy, Isa Ali Pantami, the NCC Vice Chairman told participants at the National Dialogue on Telecoms that the federal government has resolved to continually advance the digital economy agenda of the country.
The Minister said the event with the overarching theme: ‘Harnessing the Digital Resources for the Building of Our National Economy’ and sub-themes lined up for discussions, were apt and timely, given the increased reliance of individuals and businesses on digital platforms to carry out their activities.
Pantami said that the digital economy journey started by the Ministry, following the President’s approval in 2019, culminated in the development of an eight-pillar National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) with a view to providing a more coordinated and enhanced national policy direction for transforming Nigeria’s economy into a truly digital economy.
He said that NDEPS is a policy document that addresses different aspects of development that require attention in order to have a vibrant digital economy, adding that, like Nigeria, most nations are prioritising the need to develop their digital economies because of the multiplier effect on all other sectors of the economy.
The Minister noted some of the challenges of the digital economy to include rapid evolution of technology and widening inequalities between the digital “haves” and “haves-not”; need for new regulations; cybercrime and other threats; low level of digital literacy; and the need for infrastructure.
While expressing optimism about Nigeria’s digital economy strategy, he economic growth and productivity; increased transparency; growth of digital innovation and entrepreneurship; digitisation of work and useful insights from big data as some of the opportunities that abound and from which the economy will gain.
“The telecom and ICT sector stand to gain a lot from the development of our digital economy and the public and private sector need to come on board to maximise the impact on the entire economy,” the Minister said.