By Prince Osuagwu
Former Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Engr Ernest Ndukwe at the weekend described the explosive growth that occurred in the Nigerian telecom sector in the past twelve years as partly the handiwork of ICT media professionals.
This is even as he predicted that the total number of mobile subscription would exceed one hundred and five, 105, million marks by December 2012.
Ndukwe while making key note presentation at this year’s Nigerian Telecom Awards in Lagos, said that the changes that have taken place in the telecommunications industry in Nigeria in last twelve years can only be described as phenomenal, but added that it would have not been possible without the massive projections the ICT media gave it.
“The rate of change has been breath taking since 2001 when what is now commonly referred to as Nigeria’s Telecom revolution debuted. Indeed no one was in a position to predict in those early days, the full potential of the market and the speed at which the Nigerian telecom network would grow. Today, the figure for active subscribers in the mobile networks is around 100 million lines and may surpass 105million by end of December 2012.
The unwavering ICT Journalist ”We were able to achieve this feat due to an unwavering commitment to full sector reform by various stakeholders in the value chain including Government for policy direction; the industry regulator for professional and pro-active regulation, openness, transparency, and firmness; the Legislature for enacting good laws for the sector; and the Nigerian media for incisive and well researched reportage and publications”.
Ndukwe however noted that all too often the role of the Media in the telecommunications revolution is not well recognised. He stated firmly that role of the press including print, electronic and online media in the success of the telecom revolution right from the onset can never be over emphasised.
For example, he revealed that the landmark frequency spectrum auction in January 2001 would not have had the level of international acclaim and recognition for transparency it enjoyed if not for the role of the media in the pre-auction, the auction and the post-auction stages of the DML auction.
“One of the major success factors of that DML auction which commenced on the 17th and ended 19th of January 2001 was the fact that process was monitored by interested parties locally an internationally. Recognition must therefore go the indomitable media team that ensured that this happened. From that unique beginning, the relationship with the Nigerian media in ICT development has been that of an essential partnership”.
How ICT changes Journalism
He also attested to the fact that the transformation in the ICT world has also changed the face of journalism completely, adding that with the massive roll-out of ICT infrastructure and services since 2001, the reporter can quickly get into a place and is able to take pictures with his camera phone and send off very current news breaks and pictures to his editor in a distant location.
ICTs have continued to create new possibilities for the modern professional. The journalist can do his banking on the move; can write or read stories on the go; can even file-in televisions news stories on the move. The role of digital journalism.
For him, however, the New Media will redefine the concept of Journalism and media practice and redefine media power ownership in the continent. It will encourage citizen journalism and give the ordinary folk the ability to talk and contribute to issues. It will diffuse state ownership of the media albeit equally removing it from the dominance of the tiny few. He gave some few examples:
“Some Naval ratings mugged up a young girl on Lagos streets a few years ago, the first pictures would come from the mobile phone recordings which were strong enough to be beamed on global media while taking it for granted that the same pictures became a major hit on the internet. When that plane landed on the Hudson River in New York, with passengers standing on the wings of the plane, the first global pictures would come from mobile recordings of a casual observer.
And when the Challenger exploded in 1986 the only station that got the picture live was a small minnow in Atlanta, the only one at the time which believed that anything was possible on TV, including 24-Hour news network. It was the first major scoop by CNN. New Media will redefine wealth distribution and give voice to the citizenry.
Hazards of new media
“On the other side some have argued that New Media will be disruptive to established democracy, create more Cyber criminality and among others, endanger the safety and social equilibrium of societies. Instead of one to many, New Media facilitates a user-to-user interactivity, and creates what Vin Crosbie described as Individuation Media or many to many. ”
That is where the threat is: media in the hands of many. But as long as technology continues to advance, as long as personal communication tools are fitted with state of the art communication abilities, as long as humanity continues to seek for alternative technology to drive down cost and empower the majority, and as long as it is possible to receive TV and Radio in mobile devices, new media will always be advantageous beside being a threat.