NCC wants NITDA, Galaxy Backbone, others to drive initiative
Activities of majority of states in the country and some agencies are currently in cross-purposes with the move by the Federal Government to enthrone 30 per cent broadband penetration in Nigeria by end of the year.
The Guardian gathered that due to the exorbitant Right of Way (RoW) fees charged by states as against the agreed levy signed by the regulator, operators and the Governors’ Forum at a meeting, some operators have stopped expansion drive, especially the deployment of fibre optic cables, across the country.
This challenge is seen as a major impediment to the attainment of 30 per cent broadband penetration and 80 per cent Internet coverage of the country by end of 2018.
Currently, the country has attained 22 per cent Broadband penetration, while Internet penetration measured against the population (198 million) is around 48 per cent.
However, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said about 200 access-gap areas had been discovered in the country.
Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said at the draft of the NBP in 2013, minimum and maximum targets were set, which were 20 per cent and 30 per cent for realisation by 2017 and 2018 from the four and five per cent penetration then.
Danbatta, who said the country surpassed the minimum target of 20 per cent last year, noted, ‘’achieving 22 per cent at this time means 75 per cent (of 30 per cent) success has been recorded, adequately surpassing the minimum threshold.’’
He, however, said the maximum target of 30 per cent would have been long achieved had other stakeholders stepped up efforts a bit.
“The broadband plan has two targets; 20 per cent minimum and 30 per cent maximum. We have surpassed the minimum and are doing everything within our powers to make the maximum but other stakeholders must also do their bits.
“It will interest you to know that the NCC is not the only stakeholder in the broadband penetration pursuit. There are the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) vested with the responsibility of capacity-building, Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), responsible for stimulating the interest of students towards Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Galaxy Backbone, which has the role of bringing ICT into governance, among others.
“So, it is not in the hand of NCC alone to achieve the target, but when all these stakeholders do their own bits, we’ll achieve the target together,” Danbatta stated.
The NCC boss said the commission, working with an advisory committee set up by government to increase broadband access in the country, is planning to lay additional 18,000km fibre infrastructure to complement the already 40,000km on ground to improve access.
He stated that the National Economic Council is also working to ensure compliance with the harmonised price of N145 per metre for RoW.
Also, the Chief Executive Officer, Medallion Communications, Ikechukwu Nnamani, who spoke with The Guardian, said states are not aware of the need for a vibrant ICT infrastructure, adding: ‘’The state authorities do not know what ICT can bequeath them. The Federal Government needs to urgently intervene, or else, Nigeria would also miss the gains of fourth industrial revolution.’’