Emma Okonji in Busan, South Korea
The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta has assured potential investors in Nigeria of safety and protection of their investments.
Danbatta gave the assurance during the Nigeria Investment Forum at the ongoing ITU Telecom World in Busan, South Korea. He urged the investors to come to Nigeria and invest in an environment, which he described as “a potential platform for business growth and success.”
Danbatta said that the NCC in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), intervened in the crisis between Etisalat (now 9mobile) and a consortium of banks over the telecom firm’s failure to refund the money it borrowed from the banks in order to prevent the banks from taking over the management of the telecoms company. He said that the intervention became necessary because banks are not capable of successfully running a telecoms company that is fraught with high level of technicalities.
Danbatta who stated that investments in the telecoms sector had grown from a mere $50 million in 2001 to about $70 billion, reassured foreign investors of safety in their investments, since most of the investments were Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), that needed full protection.
Danbatta said: “The NCC is assuring the investors that our doors are open and that we will do whatever we can within the regulatory mandate assigned to us to ensure that their investment is safe and secure.
“NCC will continue to build a reputation of a firm, which provides incentives to operators and potential investors in order to ensure the gains recorded over the past couple of years are sustained.”
“Banks are not competent to run telecom companies, they should concentrate their efforts in making the financial sector more robust, which I believe they are doing, and I have no doubt about it,” Danbatta said.
He explained that Nigeria attended this year’s ITU Telecom Conference to tell the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) community that with a population of about 170 million, it is a preferred investment destination in Africa.
“With over 150 million active subscribers, in the voice segment, over 102 per cent teledensity and a little over 92 million internet connections, Nigeria is indeed a place to invest”, he added.
Chairman, Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) and former Minister of Communications Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, said Nigeria has a huge population with over 90 per cent internet penetration, which she said, would continue to attract foreign investment. She said investments in the area of broadband infrastructure, remained critical for Nigeria.