Chief Tony Okonkwo, group managing director, Reliance Telecommunications Limited now trading as Zoom Mobile, has commended the role played by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (Atcon) in the rapid growth of the telecommunications industry in Nigeria. He gave kudos to Atcon for its well-conceived programmes and activities which have often promoted intellectual exchanges and knowledge sharing that has helped in stimulating the sustainable development of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector in Nigeria.
Okonkwo made the commendation when the National Executive Council (Nec) of the association led by its National President, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem paid a courtesy visit to Zoom Mobile recently. He stressed that a strong industry association has become imperative for creating understanding and industrial harmony amongst competing operators in a rapidly developing sector such as the Nigerian telecommunications industry.
Speaking earlier, Ekuwem said the visit was an opportunity for Atcon’s Nec to congratulate the management and staff of ZoomMobile for putting the fire incidence that gutted the company’s network and property a few years ago behind them and exhibiting so much resilience, courage and managerial dexterity that have today seen the company repositioning and re-branding to stay ahead of competition. He observed that without a strong sense of commitment and unbroken focus, the company could have gone down with the disaster that befell it. Ekuwem expressed happiness that the company came out even stronger to the joy and pride of its teeming stakeholders and the association of which the company is a member.
Ekuwem commended the company’s rapid expansion of services to many parts of Nigeria, saying that apart from increasing service penetration and the nation’s teledensity, the company has also created jobs and business opportunities for thousands of Nigerians, thus helping to create wealth and alleviate poverty in the land.
He explained that ComBIT 2008 expo, the annual international ICT exhibition and conference organised by Atcon, offers a veritable and cost-effective platform for ZoomMobile to re-launch its cutting edge services and new corporate identity to a high network audience that will gather at the expo. Ekuwem lamented the absence of a mega ICT event in Nigeria which the whole world looks forward to attending every year. He also noted the absence of an international expo centre that competes with what obtains in other parts of the world.
"Atcon’s vision for ComBIT expo is for the whole ICT sector in Nigeria to team up and grow an event that would attract global attention to Nigeria every year. This is one major way we can attract more foreign investments into our nation’s economy," he noted.
Responding, Chief Okonkwo pledged to ensure that Zoom Mobile shows higher interest in Atcon being one of the frontline members of the association. He extolled the patriotic zeal of Atcon’s Nec in tackling issues relating to the growth of the industry. He asserted that Atcon is a very vital advocacy platform for shaping public policies that affect the sector and should therefore be encouraged and given the necessary support to enable it function optimally in the discharge of its programmes and activities in the best interest of the ICT sector in Nigeria. He confirmed his company’s active participation in ComBIT 2008 expo and promised to appointment a staff of the company as its representative in Atcon to attend all meetings and participate effectively in all programmes and activities initiated by the association.
He praised the association’s Nec for keeping in touch with member-companies and expressed hope that Atcon’s visits to industry players would be more regular as that was one way the association could understand the challenges faced by industry operators. This, according to him, will enable the association represent the industry adequately when making cases to the relevant regulatory and public policy making authorities like the Ministry of Information and Communications, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Assembly, among others.
The visit also afforded the two organizations an opportunity to reflect on such other topical issues as infrastructure sharing, definition of dominant operator, protection of small operators, development of Nigerian content in ICT, desirability of a Nigeria digital plaza and expo centre, standardization of industry awards, accreditation of SIM packs, among others.
Dr. Ekuwem noted that Atcon has drawn up plans to host a stakeholders’ forum to extensively address some of these issues in the nearest future and hoped that ZoomMobile will support the hosting of the forum. He observed that all over the world, governments tend to give more attention to industry associations as the voice of the industry, than individual operators whose interests are most often selfish.