WATISE 2.0: Experts explore how emerging tech trends will impact telecoms infrastructure

Telecommunications experts across West Africa have exposed trending innovations relying on telecoms infrastructure harping on the strategies that are crucial for the sustainability of telecommunications infrastructure to fast-track the regions digital economy.

Speaking at the second edition of the West Africa Telecoms Infrastructure Summit and Exhibtion (WATISE), with the theme: ‘Shaping the future of the telecoms infrastructure industry: Trends and Insights for a Digital Economy’ and organized by TechnologyMirror, an online telecoms news and information platform, held in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, the experts x-ray critical issues that relates the survival of the telecoms industry using the Nigerian market as a reference point.

Leading the conversation, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr Aminu Maida, in his keynote address which was on the theme of WATISE 2.0, noted that the journey towards a digital economy has a future that is paved with immense possibilities and profound challenges noting that “how we navigate this path will determine the role Nigeria plays in the global digital landscape.”

Maida who was represented by the Head of Next Generation Technology and Standard at the NCC, Engr Victor Adoga, described telecommunications infrastructure as the backbone of the digital economy, facilitating seamless connectivity and supporting a range of services from basic voice calls to high-speed internet and cloud computing.

He stated that the rapid growth of the digital economy demands robust, scalable, and secure telecommunications infrastructure disclosing that there are several key trends that are poised to shape the future of telecom infrastructure.

According to Maida, the rollout of 5G networks is a transformative trend in telecoms infrastructure saying that 5G promises significantly higher speeds, lower latency, and greater capacity, facilitating new applications such as IoT (Internet of Things), autonomous vehicles, smart cities and advanced augmented reality.

He listed other emerging trends affecting the deployment of telecoms infrastructure across the region as Internet of Things, Fiber Optic Expansion, Data Localisation and Security, Regulatory Frameworks, Cybersecurity and Energy Efficiency and Sustainability.

He however suggested that the telecoms operators must take consider strategic actions to stay in business saying that collaboration which is partnerships between government, industry, and academia can drive innovation and development.

He added that Innovative Financing Models, Investment in Human Capital, Focus on Sustainability, Integration with AI and Machine Learning and Developing Smart Infrastructure noting also as crucial investing in rural telecom infrastructure and making digital literacy a key component of our educational programs.

Still speaking on the theme of WATISE 2.0. Chief Executive Officer of WTES Projects Limited, Mr Chidi Ajuzie who joined virtually from Ethiopia said there is deluge of connectivity from submarine cable landings linking Nigeria to Europe and rest of the world.

According to him, while there is no centrally managed national transmission backbone, licensed Operators have, over the years, built transmission networks to meet their own needs, often duplicated on most routes.

He disclosed that the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) has carried out a detailed study to characterize basic telephony and ICT gaps in the country, identifying 97 clusters with varying population densities and a cumulative population of about 27.91 million that suffer from significant connectivity services gaps. Digital broadband gap is even more, estimated at over 100 million population.

Ajuzie stated that to reap the benefits of broadband, there is need to close the clear gaps existing in the metro middle- and last-mile segments of the connectivity value chain. New Connectivity will be required to bridge the gaps and meet the National Broadband targets.

In fireside chat on ‘Enhancing Rural Connectivity: Strategies for Expanding Telecom Infrastructure’, Tinuade Oguntuyi, Head Network and Solutions, at Information and Communications Services Limited (ICSL) said that that rural areas need better network services for proper communication and development.

Oguntuyi, who anchored the fireside chat urged the government to support network service providers to reach more rural places as they are also full of great potentials for the growth of the nation.

Also speaking, Ahmad Tijani, a local content ICT advocate commended Federal Government projects to connect the rural dwellers and harped on the need to carry the local government leaders along.

Tijani who represented Dr. Adebunmi Adeola Akinbo, National Secretary ICTLOCA, cited the challenge of data gathering which can be sorted by the local government, calling on the grassroots to add value to the nation growth.

In his welcome address, the Convener of WATISE, Isaiah Erhiawarien said that the second edition was a step towards ensuring a reliable telecoms infrastructure for the region, and thanked the Nigerian Communications Commission, Open Access Data Nigeria Limited, Digital Realty, ICSL, HyperSpace Limited and OneData Limited for believing in the dream of the organisers.