New Leadership of CTO: What Nigeria stands to gain

Ever since Nigeria came from behind to pip many other emerging markets as the most vibrant, growing mobile economy, the trajectory of growth has never witnessed a downward trend.

Rather, the attention of the world towards the sub Saharan Africa has seen many prestigious positions either ceded or allotted to Nigeria and Nigerians.

When the International Telecommunications Union, ITU, in July 2013, declared wife of former President, Dame Patience Jonathan as Ambassador/Champion online child protection, it added to the profile of the country.

The position which meant that Mrs Jonathan would work towards creating safe environment for children online, partly stemmed from the massive internet activity from Nigeria, especially with a sizeable population being youths and children who do so through their mobile phones.
For what it’s worth, that position has seen to a new wave of online education which has discovered many youth innovators and an army of online savvy children only seen in countries like Sweden where an average 4 year old is computer savvy.

Again, pennultimate week, Nigeria made another history, emerging both the Chairman and Secretary of the Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation, CTO, when the 54-member nations of the CTO rose from its yearly Forum and Council meeting recently in Nairobi, Kenya to elect Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC as the new Chairman of the commonwealth body.

Chairmanship of the CTO, by its rules, is usually country-specific and the position is held by that country’s chief telecoms regulator. Nigeria won the position in 2014 and ended the tenure just before the election. But by this new election, the country has also started another.

Opening of CTO Forum

“Danbatta’s election coincided with the resumption of another Nigerian, Engr Shola Taylor as the Secretary General and Chief Executive of the same body.“Taylor was named Secretary General on June 16, 2015 in London, United Kingdom and subsequently took oath of office during the opening of the CTO Forum 2015 mid September in Nairobi, Kenya.“

The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation is the oldest and largest Commonwealth membership organisation in the field of Information and Communication Technologies, ICTs.  It has created six strategic plans and priority areas for 2012/13 and 2015/16 on which it is concentrating its contribution to the use of ICTs for development across the Commonwealth during the plan period. They include:
Youth and ICT: This proposes to help young people have a voice through innovative use of ICTs – a key theme for the Commonwealth
Regulatory: Regulatory environments play a crucial role in helping to ensure that markets operate as effectively as possible and CTO wants a proper focus on it.

Skills development: CTO believes that ICTs can transform education and help play a critical role in skills development and entrepreneurship
ICTs and disability: In the view of CTO, people with greater disabilities have much more to gain from ICTs than those with fewer disabilities
Cybersecurity: In the technological world, no data are completely secure; how can governments and citizens most effectively manage this, is a question CTO wants to answer

Mobile broadband: This strategy is meant to create the infrastructure so that broadband connectivity can be anywhere throughout the commonwealth.

Incidentally, all of these strategies are so paramount in continued sustenance of the quantum leap Nigeria has made in telecoms landscapeDouble honours: These double honours may also have not been, without the enviable telecom growth record Nigeria boasts of, as a leading player in the African telecoms ecosystem.

With over 150 million active telephone lines, mobile Internet user base of over 90 million and over $32 billion local and foreign direct investment (FDIs), Nigeria’s telecoms sector has become a reference point in the global telecoms landscape.“A tech-based research institution, Pyramid Research, even recently reaffirmed that Nigeria is one of the fastest telecoms economies of the world at an annual growth rate of 30 per cent.“
Although the country has grown its teledensity from less than one per cent in 2001, to about 107 per cent now, the desire for sustenance saw the formation of a broadband policy which is expected to be an enabler of faster economic development.

“In the National Broadband Plan, the country has set an auspicious 30 per cent broadband penetration target by 2018 from the six per cent penetration recorded in 2013 and 10 per cent at the moment.

“All these may have benefitted from an arguable conducive telecom regulatory regime which has become a template for other African countries which at one time or the other come to understudy from the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC.

Afro-centric regulatory strategy“However, with the election of Nigeria to the Chairmanship and Secretary General positions, the country would be expected to be a major force in championing further telecoms development, not only at home but also in developing an Afro-centric regulatory strategy as a sign of having fully maximized the potential of the positions.“

Telecom advocacy groups

Although several Nigerian Information and Communications Technology professionals including leaders of telecom advocacy groups, Association of Telecom companies of Nigeria, ATCON, Engr Lanre Ajayi and Association of Licensed Telecom operators in Nigeria, ALTON, Engr Gbenga Adebayo and others, have lauded the impact of the NCC in actualisation of these laudable honours, having played noticeable role in the development of Africa’s telecoms market, they also challenged the duo of Danbatta and Taylor to ensure Nigeria maximises these current positions to not only reinforce prominent roles in robust Nigerian telecoms regulation but also call the shots in propelling needed growth in the commonwealth nations.

“Most particularly, they expect that the Danbatta/Taylor CTO leadership must explore ideas to get the Commonwealth region to effectively drive the use of broadband and other ICT tools for socio-economic transformation.