By Martin Ekpeke
The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Tuesday met with the Secretary to the State Government of Akwa Ibom, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, in a bid to get the state government’s support in the area of Information and Communications Technology.
Specifically, the umbrella body of all telecommunication professionals in Nigeria, is seeking the partnership of the state to organize an Akwa-Ibom Technology Investment Forum.
According to Olusola, Teniola, President of ATCON, the primary objective of the proposed forum is to encourage growth and development in the state through deliberate investment in technology.
“As part of our contributions towards making your tenure as the SSG to the Governor of Akwa-Ibom State an unforgettable one, the Association would like to partner with your state to organize an Akwa-Ibom Technology Investment Forum,” Teniola told the Ekumem, who is a former President of ATCON.
He expressed the association’s delight to the governor of Akwa-Ibom State, His Excellency Mr. Udom Emmanuel, for appointing Ekumem, who he described as a thorough bred technocrat, professional and a promoter of human relations with sterling leadership quality. He assured that the appointment of Ekumem would help the state to develop more and take the state to the next level of its achievements.
Teniola, also reminded the SSG of some of the factors responsible for low broadband penetration in Nigeria. The factors, according to him include multiple taxation, which he argues is not helping the industry to grow as all tiers of government are taxing the sector and the direct resultant effect of this is erosion of profits, which does not encourage further direct investment to the country.
Another factor is the shutting down of base stations and destruction of masts and towers. He disclosed that available record has shown that base stations are shut down by either local government or state government without any prior notice to service provider and this usually accounts for poor quality of telecoms service in Nigeria.
Responding, Dr. Ekuwem, who said he is very pleased to receive the ATCON NEC led by Engr. Olusola Teniola, President,ATCON to his office, stated that immediately he was sworn in as the new SSG to the Governor of Akwa Ibom, he invited all the telecom companies to find out their challenges, but to his great surprise, the telecom companies in the state said the state has been very cooperative and there was no incidence of multiple taxation and no harassment from the state.
He further stated that the Government of Akwa Ibom knows the importance of broadband as 10% broadband penetration is equivalent to 1.3 percent increase in GDP and apart from this, it also enhances productivity and the state has always encouraged telecom companies operating in Akwa Ibom to maintain a higher level of maintenance culture so as to prevent the incidence of mast collapse and malfunctioning of base station in the state.
He said the state also plans to connect all the local governments in the state through broadband and IPTVs are being installed in all government offices to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in the State.
“The focus of the government of Akwa Ibom is to have smart classrooms, smart city and smart cities and the state is currently working on electrification projects called Ibom Power and seven local governments are expected to enjoy Portable Power Supply in no distant time,” he assured.