Zenith Bank GMD lauds Nigeria’s telecommunications sector

By Felicia Nwosu

In commemoration and recognition of the transformational development ushered in by the Nigerian telecommunications sector in its 20 years journey, while impacting lives in serving and servicing Nigeria’s economy, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, the Group Managing Director of Zenith Bank, a leading multinational financial services provider, has lauded the telecommunications sector for recording a phenomenal growth in revolutionising Nigeria’s socio-economy since 2001.

The commercial bank’s GMD, while focusing on the topic: “Internet, Next Frontier for Growth and Service Delivery”, recalled how impactful the network providers were during the global lockdown occasioned by Covid-19 last year. They helped businesses, families and their relations stay in touch, thereby saving relationships.

Mr. Onyeagwu also acknowledged that telecommunications has deepened financial inclusion through the provision of point on sales (POS) terminals, USSD code, speed wallet, and many others which have contributed to the overall quality of life.

“Everything we are doing now, beyond financial inclusion, can’t have banking and communications the way it used to be. However, the fundamental for this to happen is telecommunications. Without telecommunications, we can’t drive the economy, we cannot talk about product innovation which has to do with application of digital technology to re-plan, reshape and change the way we do things. What we are doing now is trap-shooting from the situation where we have physical in-person transaction to do-it-yourself transaction.”

Mr. Onyeagwu stated that telecommunications remains the best enabler in expanding the frontiers of financial inclusion in Nigeria, adding that before 2001, telecommunication was primarily run by the defunct Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) with combined subscriptions of about 400,000 lines built on its network and a few other existing Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) networks.

The financial icon acknowledged the operators for the unimaginable transition, and for ensuring that Nigeria was not left behind in the implementation of the various generational networks, by implementing 1G to 5G plan for the country. The Zenith Bank helmsman also noted that the telecoms sector has recorded a remarkable upsurge in the number of subscribers, which has translated to the growth of the GDP.

His words: “The total subscriber rose from 2.2 million in 2001, to 204.6 million in 2020. Again, in Nigerian cities, the number of telephone connections for every hundred individual living within an area plan for 1.5% in 2002 rose to 17.3% in 2020, according to figures provided by NCC. The percentage of Nigeria’s population also using internet rose from 0.3% in 2002, to 33.6% in 2009, according to world international telecommunications Union, while total internet subscription stood at about 154.3 million as at December, 2020. The dramatic growth in telecommunications has impacted significantly on the rebase GDP of the country in 2004. From the data we have from the CBN, telecoms sector accounted for 1.28%, i.e., 339.90 billion of our gross domestic product in 2 001. Now fast-forward that to June 2002, telecoms sector now accounts for 14.42%, comparing that from the 1.28% to 14.42%, i.e., 2.41 trillion of our GDP. This is a massive quantum leap of over six hundred percent.”

The financial expert charged network operators to embrace equity by offering available, affordable, accessible services to all and sundry, so that nobody is left behind in attaining the sustainable goals. This, he revealed, is to remain sustainable in servicing the economy.

The Zenith Bank boss urged the operators to recalibrate for better financial inclusiveness through enlightenment and advocacy to eradicate digital immaturity and illiteracy to enable users comport and conduct themselves.

The University of Pennsylvania product advised that operators dive into options on curbing the losses suffered by banks and individuals through cybercrimes, by decomposing unused or inactive apps to restrict undesirable elements from hacking into individuals’ personal data, as well as entrenching a stringent regulation to guide the practices.

He charged members of the 4th estate of the realm to help in amplifying and propagating the laudable achievements recorded by the sector through commentaries and advocacy, which he revealed, formed the basis and thrust of organising  the Media Master Class with media professionals.


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