Nigeria Information and Communications Technology Reporters’ Association (NITRA) has hosted its inaugural quarterly seminar series of the association), titled: ‘Engendering Local Innovations in the Telecoms Sector’ at Westown Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.
The President, Nigeria Information and Communications Technology Reporters’ Association (NITRA), Mr. Emma Okonji said in his address that the inaugural seminar is among series of seminars that will be organised by NITRA on a quarterly basis.
Okonji noted that NITRA which is the umbrella body of all ICT journalists in Nigeria, cutting across the print, broadcast and online media was established in November, 2013 with a vision to drive ICT development, ensure accurate and robust ICT reportage, to deepen collaborations with industry stakeholders and the regulator for a sustainable development in the ICT industry.
NITRA, he said was established to create the needed awareness and to redirect the thinking of the ICT industry towards a sustainable growth and development, hence the choice of the selected topic and for the association to issue to the media as communiqué for public consumption.
He said that Nigeria is today recognised as the largest economy in Africa with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of over $500 billion, a figure arrived after the rebasing exercise that took place last year, adding that the activities of telecommunications, no doubt, contributed immensely in helping Nigeria to achieve this feat.
The NITRA President disclosed that in the last fourteen years of telecoms deregulation, which ushered in the GSM revolution with four major licensed GSM operators setting the pace in the industry, Nigeria has grown from about 400,000 telephone lines to over 190 million connected lines on all networks with over 142 million of these lines active.
Correspondingly, he said the teledensity has also surpassed 101 per cent, going by the latest industry statistics by the NCC, while the industry has provided direct and indirect job opportunities to millions of Nigerians, thereby reducing unemployment rate in the country, and becoming a key enabler for economic growth.
In order to build upon the current achievements in telecoms, NITRA, he hinted has taken it as a point of duty to the industry to use its Quarterly Seminar Series, as veritable platform, to advance discussions on the need to promote local innovations in the telecoms industry.
“We therefore consider the topic for this seminar apt and timely as it gives us the lee-way to discuss issues around the use of local content and local innovations in creating relevant ICT devices and solutions that will drive further development in the telecoms sector.
“Consequently, we at NITRA also see this as an opportunity for industry stakeholders and the industry regulator to throw more light on what must be done to engender local innovations in the telecoms sector, considering the fact that Nigeria is largely a consuming nation, with little contribution to local content development in the telecoms sector,” he said.
He lamented that the situation cannot be said of the Oil and Gas sector, where local content is being fully deployed, following the implementation of its local content act that has been enshrined into Nigerian Law on the 22nd of April 2010.
“This act sets out specific work scopes that must be performed in Nigeria and it guarantees fair access to foreign companies. The Act seeks to increase indigenous participation in the oil and gas industry by prescribing minimum thresholds for the use of local services and materials and to promote Nigerian staff in the oil and gas industry.
“In order to replicate same in the telecoms sector, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications Technology, released the guidelines for Nigerian Content Development in ICT, which took effect from December 3, 2013. We are, however, still awaiting a well-rounded implementation of this policy, going forward,” he added.
He thanked Etisalat for sponsoring the seminar, as well as other industry stakeholders for supporting it and appealed to the NCC, NITDA and other industry stakeholders, to assist NITRA in financing a befitting secretariat with connected devices, to enable the association function at its best.