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How Telcos Can Rebuild Nigeria In Wake Of COVID-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effect on all social and economic sectors. In just three months, the pan­demic has left tears, sweats and blood on the people and the economy.

For Nigeria, the pandemic is an eye opener and a rude welcome to a new normal-knowledge economy.

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Lagos state relies heavily on knowledge economy and that ac­counts for the success it is recording in the fight against the pandemic.

Apart from the ingenuities by La­gos and a few other states, Nigeria’s overall response to COVID-19 has been less than satisfactory.

The new phases of recovery and thriving will be defining for the coun­try; and as seen in this crisis, telecom­munications are playing role in re­taining any semblance of normalcy.

In recovery stage, telcos will also help manage the transition out of COVID-19-related stagnation as well as provide a resilient national infra­structure to stimulate the Gross Do­mestic Product (GDP) growth.

ABI Research, global tech market advisory firm, in its new whitepaper, ‘Telcos as a National Growth Acceler­ator,’ identified several strategies that governments can utilise to invest in stimulating growth by strengthening the Telco position.

Locally, experts said Nigeria must leverage on the disruption to create a knowledge-based economy.

To do this Stuart Carlaw, Chief Research Officer at ABI Research, said: “It could be argued that telcos could play a pivotal role in countries being able to rebound from the finan­cial and productivity shock coming from COVID-19.”

ABI Research found that telcos have been invaluable in enabling some semblance of societal con­tinuation during lockdowns due to COVID-19.

“In a very tactical way, they have enabled governments to track, trace, and manage the spread of the virus, communicate effectively and direct­ly with people, and keep supporting society in a virtual, but valuable way.

“Without the investment and op­erational diligence of many telcos, the impact of COVID-19 would have been far deeper and more profoundly felt in all economies.” Carlaw stated.

For Olusola Teniola, President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), the biggest recovery for Nigeria would be by the careful and full implemen­tation of all recommendations in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-25.

“Secondly, for there to be an imme­diate impact, government needs to kick-start the e-gov digital migration, which means the immediate devel­opment of e-systems in all the Min­istries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and web-portals in different languages (Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa as a minimum) with voice assistance for the physically challenged. This will refocus and redeploy government spending on creating jobs on the supply side for the youth and demand from the citizens interacting with the systems to fulfill different needs,” he added.

According to him, underpinning all this was the massive employment and retraining of our citizens to be­come more productive whether from home, office or in business centers in malls.

Also, Mohammed Rudman, Man­aging Director, Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) said telcos could aid the recovery efforts through cost effective innovative data bundle for young entrepreneurs as well as lower bandwidth cost that will offer more data at lower cost.

“Telcos should ensure that their traffic is localised, that will help to reduce cost for them,” he added.

Nodding in agreement, Muyiwa Ogungboye, managing director, eS­tream Networks, said that Nigerians now appreciate telecommunications service as important in the economy with the lockdown.

He urged telcos to improve on the quality of service and ensure robust network that will accommodate new discovery of the new normal to be driven by ICT.

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