By PETER EGWUATU
WARRI — Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, yesterday, disclosed that the Federal Government needed to invest N40.7 billion in infrastructure between now and 2015, even as plans have been concluded to commit $15 million in venture capital to boost the Information Communication Technology, ICT.
She also berated telecommunication operators for poor services and warned them to invest more in infrastructure to enhance their services.
The minister who disclosed this at the Capital Market Committee, CMC, retreat in Warri, Delta State, said: “Government is planning to launch a venture capital by committing about $15 million in the first instance to enable talented youths have access to funds to boost the telecomm sector since these youths cannot access capital from the banks because of their inability to provide the needed collaterals.
Warns telecom operators
“The mobile telephone can be used to democratize the Nigerian capital market if well harnessed. So, my ministry is really in talks and engaging the telecommunication operators to commit more funds in boosting their infrastructure to meet the increased capacity of their network.
We are also working and ensuring that some bottlenecks militating against their services are eliminated so that they can give Nigerians the best services like what obtains in other jurisdictions.
“We also want the telecom operators to modernize their network as most of their facilities have become outdated and need to be upgraded to be able to serve the increasing number of network users in the country.”
She disclosed that her ministry could not force the telecom companies to go to the capital market, saying: “There has been talks with my ministry, the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, and Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE.
Though there is need for the telecom companies to list on stock exchange but there must be a holistic approach to bring these companies to the stock market.
“So there should be rules, laws or standards that must be set up for certain size of companies either in terms of capital, employees, etc to be listed on the Exchange.
It should not be restricted to telecom companies but to other companies across all sectors of the economy. In doing so, it will make sense so that it will not appear that they are being forced to do so.”
In her welcome address, Director General, SEC, Ms Arunma Oteh, said: “There is need to have a strong institution, be it SEC, NSE and operators, to deliver service efficiently.
We should tap the abundant resources we have to develop the capital market and the economy in general.”
There are opportunities we need to tap in agriculture, infrastructure, housing etc.”
To this extent, she charged operators to use the capital market instruments to help pursue the transformation agenda of the Federal Government.