The telecoms and the information service sector contributed a whooping N8.6 trillion to the Nigerian economy in 2017.According to findings by BudgIT Nigeria, the figure was based on the number of workforce in the telecoms industry, money expended by Nigerians on phone calls, data usage, among other services provided by the telecoms industry.
BudgIT is a civic startup that liberates budgets and public data from an inactive state into a more engaging format mostly through infographics and interactive application with the aim of improving civic discussion and institutional reform.
The firm in a report on the operational and fund management analysis of the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) said, “as at the end of 2017, the telecoms and information service sectors direct contribution to Africa’s largest economy as approximately 8.7 per cent or N8.6 trillion.
The report launched yesterday in Abuja, during the BudgIT session at the ongoing Internet Freedom Forum, stressed the need for planning and decision making, saying with rapid expansion of the Nigerian mobile telecoms industry due to the proliferation of the Internet, computers, smartphone, social media and the advancement of digital sensors technology is pushing up the volume of data generated.
The report further revealed that telephone penetration has 145 million subscribers as at 2017 with total number of Internet subscribers put at 100.9 million people as at February 2018, representing 22 per cent. It lamented the increasing gap in the accessibility to Internet between the rural and urban areas as the increasing Internet accessibility remain largely in the rural center.
The General Manager Operations BudgIT, Gabriel Okeowo maintained that the impact of the USPF working towards promoting universal access and services that facilitates connectivity and development was yet to be felt in the urban areas.
He maintained that as at 2016 an estimated 51.4 per cent of Nigerians reside in the rural areas but very few of them feel the impact of Information and Communication Technologies, adding that the USPF has been established to close the existing gap in the telephoning and data usage.
Okeowo explained that owing to the inability of telecommunication companies to expand connectivity to rural areas, there is a certain percentage of their tariff that goes into the funding of the USPF that the agency was used to spread Internet broadband to underserved or un-served in the country.
To enable the USPF improve broadband connection in the rural communities, he stressed the need for needs assessment and community involvement, saying that though the government through the USPF has been claiming they are implementing project to increase broadband penetration, but unfortunately most of them are not seen.He said “to ensure that the projects are not vandalised, there was need for the USPF to ensure community ownership of the project and also encourage public private partnership of the project so as to enhance sustainability.’’The report also recommended the need for the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) and USPF to rework the regulatory system so as to drive more investments in rural telephony, which according to them, is critical for the development of the rural economy.It also underscored the need for NCC and USPF to dedicate significant resources to community-based network systems as the model would need regulatory makeover to work in Nigeria, commending the recently released regulatory regime on spectrum management that allows trading and transfer of spectrum and license rights.