InterviewTelecommunicationTOP 20 CEO's of the Decade

NIGCOMSAT has contributed to the broadband penetration, to drive digital transformation- MD/CE NIGCOMSAT, Dr Abimbola Alale

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In this exclusive interview with one of the TOP 20 CEO’s this decade, Dr Abimbola Alale, MD/CEO, NIGCOMSAT shared her thoughts on ways to improve the broadband penetration and her priority in driving the digital transformation. Excerpts.
Congratulations on your 2nd term as MD/CE, can you give us an insight into your 1st term achievements?
Thank you for your thoughtfulness as I give thanks to Almighty GOD for his supports and the opportunity that was bestowed on me to serve my country in this capacity. Gratitude to Mr President, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) FNCS, FBCS, FIIM.
Back to your question, I can tell you that NIGCOMSAT’s achievements during my first term in office is actually within the yearly budget and IGR of the company.  Nevertheless, the organization was able to acquire the latest hub facilities in the industry, provide services to many schools across the nation, provide digital media platform that support digital TV broadcasting, served as spectrum manager to belintersat (Belarus satellite), supports many private companies in the delivery of turnkey satellite based internet solutions, there are other achievements that are classified based on national security, thereby saving the federal government’s from capital flight.
What will be the focus for your 2nd term in office?
Well, my focus in this second term is to position the company to provide unparallel quality and affordable services that can support the digital economy policy of the federal government of Nigeria, and also to push for additional satellites for NIGCOMSAT Limited with the latest ground control infrastructure and satellite backbone infrastructure that the national broadband roadmap can ride on.
The Hon. minister has changed the name of the ministry to what is acceptable and in line with the global practice to suit the trends of the ITU, to Communications and Digital Economy. He came up with national digital economy policies and national data economy and has continued to push for broadband penetration to accelerate growth and social inclusion. Everything we provide now aligns with those policies. We are continually improving our services. What we are doing now is to improve business processes.
Can you elaborate on the role NIGCOMSAT plays in the Digital Economy policy of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy?
The National Digital Economy Policy comprises of 8 pillars as stated in the policy document by the federal Ministry of communications and Digital Economy. Having said that, out of the 8 pillars NIGCOMSAT Limited will be very relevant in 3 pillars which are;
▪ Pillar 2: Service infrastructure; to provide government digital services through a robust satellite link in order to drive the digital economy.
▪ Pillar 3: Solid infrastructure pillar: to provide satellite infrastructure platform to deepen the broadband penetration especially in the rural and underserved areas in Nigeria.
▪ Pillar 5: Digital Service Development and Promotion;  to develop and provide  a digital satellite ecosystem that support artificial intelligent and innovation driven enterprise.
How is the replacement Satellite (NIGCOMSAT-1R) doing commercially & is there any update on the possibility of a backup satellite capacity?
Thank God, NIGCOMSAT-1R is performing optimally in orbit, the satellite is almost 9 years in orbit based on the launch date which was December 2011. In term of commercial viability, I can tell you that we are competitive enough and the satellite remain a good platform to deliver innovative digital services. Yes, backup satellite is key to the National Broadband Infrastructure Development. Thus, we are working with the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) towards acquiring additional satellites and Nigerians will get to know of this soonest.
Recently, with the approval of the Hon Min of Communications and Digital Economy, two subsidiaries were created from NIGCOMSAT. What they are & what are we expected to see from these new companies?
Once again, thanks to the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) who understands the vision and mission of NIGCOMSAT gave approval to create two subsidiary companies (SUBCOs) namely; Satellite Infrastructure Company (SIC) & Satellite Broadband and Broadcasting Company (SBBC) in its bid to achieve its ambition to be the leading satellite communication solutions provider in Nigeria and Africa.
The two subsidiaries are established to carry-out commercial businesses on behalf of NIGCOMSAT Limited with strategic and project implementation partners from private sector and expand its business operations in the information communications technology.
Can you tell us about the regional offices and their objectives in line with the vision and mission of NIGCOMSAT?
Regional offices are to provide services for the inter-land to promote digital and financial inclusion of all Nigerians irrespective of location.  Having said that, the regional offices objectives are to promulgate the NIGCOMSAT’s mission and vision which is ‘’to provide seamless connectivity and satellite communication through innovation’’ and ‘’to be the leading satellite communications solutions provider in Nigeria and Africa.
How has NIGCOMSAT fared in this period of Covid-19?
COVID 19 pandemic became a major disruption and new reality in our world, we adapted and took in the opportunity that came with the new normal. Some of non-essential operations became flexible and virtual. We also supported our sister agencies with broadband coverage. Obviously, The digital ecosystem has come to stay because people now know that communication is critical during this crisis. And in order to prepare for the future, We had enhance digital tools at our disposal to boost performance and operations to serve our customers better.
As the only woman heading an Agency in the Communications & Digital Economy Ministry, you have been nominated as one of the TOP 20 CEO’s this decade, how do you react to this rare feat?
Globally, some industries are gender free, one of such industry is Space industry and having been supervised by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, I believe that being the only woman heading an agency under Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is a sign that women are participating in scarce skills sectors in this country.
On the nomination, I give thanks to the Almighty GOD that I have been found worthy for this excellent recognition of top 20 CEO in this decade, I also thank ICT Watch Magazine.
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