LTE and broadband have far-reaching socio-economic benefits, according to Ernest Ndukwe, chairman of the Openmedia Group and former chief executive officer (CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Speaking at the Long Term Evolution (LTE) Africa conference in Cape Town from a regulator’s point of view, Ndukwe said network operators are “embracing LTE because it has emerged as the technology that will define their future business offerings to subscribers in response to the rapid growth in wireless data traffic.”
Ndukwe said LTE was seeing uptake amongst operators due to the “promise it holds for faster achievement do universal broadband access to the citizens including those in rural areas.”
He said he believes broadband is essential in Africa because investing in it has economic benefits which are far reaching. He said it is widely accepted that an increasing broadband penetration is positive for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth.
Furthermore, Ndukwe referred to a World Bank survey from 2009, which indicated that for low to medium income earning countries, an increase of 10 per cent in broadband penetration yields an additional 1.38 increase within GDP growth.
“Broadband is therefore an enabler of human empowerment and socio-economic development. Because of the importance of broadband, it has become the goal of every modern nation, region or business entity, to have access to this empowering tool required to compete successfully in the global digital economy,” said Ndukwe.
“With the primary objective of policy makers being to facilitate pervasive broadband deployment to maximise the socio-economic benefits that accrues from it.”
Service providers and policy makers alike, he said, are focusing on the “important issue of stimulating demand”. He said consumers must be able to find broadband access affordable “when they have come to appreciate the relevance and attractiveness of it”.
Ndukwe asked the question: “Would it not be regrettable that after rollout of LTE networks, subscribers employ it only for voice connections?”
Therefore affordability of access to devices and digital literacy are vital for the successful and profitable implementation of LTE networks.
“For most African countries the strategy for achieving speedy universal access to broadband must be anchored on encouraging speedy roll out of wireless broadband networks based on 3G and 4G access technologies,” said Ndukwe.