The Nigerian telecommunication ecosystem can be said to have come of age, having over billions of dollars invested over the past decade. The industry attracted one of the highest foreign direct investments (FDI) Telecoms in Nigeria is said to be the second highest contributor to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) second to oil and gas. A robust sector, with highest mobile teledensity in Africa and amongst the top countries in the world according to World Telecommunication Organisation (WTO). The Nigerian telecommunication industry has evolved from a voice based industry in the early 2000s to a very sophisticated industry; having various sub sectors like data centres, mobile VAS providers, Infrastructure Firms and fibre optic providers and dealers with an ever evolving regulator.
Though, it is no an easy sail for the industry, the industry has been bedeviled by a lot of irregularities and challenges such as uncompetitive practices like spectrum warehousing, high cost of spectrum , fringe high cost of broadband, last mile issues and low broadband penetration, coupled with a dearth of capacity and over dependence on expatriate.
As the country’s telecommunication industry is evolving and getting sophisticated , the industry has demonstrated a clear departure from a voice based industry to a data centric one. Stakeholders are worried that the country’s higher institutions aren’t living up to this new paradigm. The Nigerian institution is still churning out half baked graduates, these sets of graduates become a burden to the industry. The industry stakeholders decried the cost of training these graduates and this trend has impacted negatively on their operational expenditure(CAPEX) and limiting their expansion and upgrading programs due to the high cost of training.
On this note, The Telecoms Executive and Regulators Forum (TERF) which is the annual gathering of members of the Association of Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ATCON) gathered at the prestigious Oriental Hotel, Lagos to discuss ways to move the industry forward . Hosted by the current ATCON president ,Mr Teniola , the current ATCON president .
The need to revamp the ICT space such as bringing scholarship to Nigerians by encouraging Nigerians to study abroad and bring this technical know-how to the country. This is in terms of capacity building, training and focus on STEM subjects are the main focus of discussion. The country must understand the need to position herself as a global player and telecom hub in Africa .
The is a need to understudy countries like India has been called. One of the ICT stakeholders, this position was stated by Ike Nnamani, the CEO of Medallion. He lamented the poor quality of science graduates in the workplace.
“There is an urgent need for the country to revisit what we do with our science graduates ,there should be a policy in this regard. The nation must be able to differentiate what skill sets that is needed and the government must address this part”, he said .
The need to rejig and re evaluate the current education system has been called by the stakeholders. Nigerian education system is obsolete and not at par with the current trends in the global industry. The present educational system in the country is obsolete and outdated. A situation that has affected the graduates from the universities who are not capable to deliver in most cases. The form called for a strategic approach to the current education system . The Nigerian education must lay emphasis on STEM courses.
On the issue of having a specialized university and financial institution that would cater for the need of the industry. The telecom executives called for a specialized bank that would focus on the peculiar needs of the industry, stating that the conventional banks do not understand the intricacies of the telecommunication ecosystem. On the issue of the universities, most of the stakeholders said that it is a duplicity. They stated that the current university should be upgraded and revamped to meet with the rising demands of the ever changing telecommunication industry and save capital flight.
Anthony Emeka Nwosu