The Nigerian government has said as a member of the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA), it has envisioned a society with necessary infrastructure and services that will ensure prosperity for all people across the region.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, who stated this at the two-day 18th Annual General Meeting of WATRA, argued that ICT is key to regional integration. Thus, WATRA is the best platform to pool together the region’s huge natural and human resources to achieve exponential ICT growth which will in turn drive the economies.

Addressing WATRA representatives, Dr. Pantami also called for increased regional collaboration for the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) ecosystem in West Africa as a potential digital hub on the global ICT map.

”The time has come for African countries to come up with innovative ideas to fast-track the development of the ICT ecosystem in the sub-region. Nigeria, as the largest ICT market in West Africa and the most populous African country, has taken policy and regulatory initiatives in making ICT/telecoms a major contributor to its economic growth,” he said.

Also speaking at the meeting, which commenced in Abuja yesterday, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta said ICT/telecoms has become a major contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), far higher than what oil and gas, agriculture, construction, and other major sectors contribute to the economy.

He noted that NCC in spearheading the implementation of critical ICT policies, such as the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025 and the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria (2020-2030), has continued to share ideas with other member states of WATRA and support the Assembly for the overall goal of collectively developing the ICT ecosystem in the sub-region.

Danbatta urged all member states to come together and see their differences as strengths because at the end of the day, the region wants to have a safe and thriving society devoid of poverty and strife.

Meanwhile, Chairman, WATRA Exco, Charles Tontoma Milogo of Burkina Faso, commended the leadership role of NCC, especially in equipping the Assembly headquarters in Abuja. He added that this has ensured the smooth running of the daily operations of WATRA as the key regional ICT body.

Also, Commissioner for Telecommunications and Information Technologies, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Dr. Zouli Bonkoungou, said through the kind of collaboration exemplified by WATRA, ECOWAS members would be able to encourage the establishment of modern legal and regulatory structures for telecommunications service delivery for driving socio-economic development in all states in the sub-region.

Meanwhile, ICT Ministers from Liberia, Cooper Kruah; Sierra Leone, Mamadi Gobeh-Kamara, The Gambia, Ebrima Sillah, among other participants at the annual conference, have commended Nigeria for its impressive ICT development. They expressed readiness to emulate Nigeria in the area of innovative policy implementation and regulations to make ICT/telecoms a major economic contributor in their respective countries.


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