Internet penetration rate in Nigeria has hit 47.44 percent, second only to South Africa on the continent, according to Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the NCC, who disclosed this on Monday at an interactive media session in Abuja, said Nigeria also attained a broadband penetration rate of 20.95 percent, only 10 percent short of the 2018 target, adding that the Federal Government generated over N47 billion as revenue through the sale and licensing of spectrum in the last one year.
He noted that the commission has ensured efficient monitoring and value-driven usage of spectrum for provision of different types of services.
Danbatta while presenting his scorecard in the last one year, said the NCC had deployed four Anmtsu Spectrum Analysers, leading to more efficiency in radio spectrum monitoring.
Commenting on the broadband penetration in the past year, he said the active mobile broadband penetration released by the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development indicates that Nigeria has reached a penetration level of 20.95 percent, while internet penetration attained a milestone of 47.44 percent, second to South Africa on the continent.
It would be recalled that on September 20, 2012, former President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated the presidential committee on the national broadband strategy and road map.
The committee which was co-chaired by the former Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe and the founder of Zenith Bank, Mr. Jim Ovia, had 15 other members representing various stakeholder groups in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector and a set of co-opted members.
From inception, the committee was given a mandate to come up with a five-year strategic road map for Nigeria’s National Broadband Plan (2013-2018). Based on their personalities with vast industry knowledge, the broadband plan was ready and submitted in 2013.
However, because of poor infrastructure and other challenges in the telecoms industry such as multiple taxation, multiple regulation, difficulties in obtaining right of way from state governments and other government agencies, Nigeria could only achieve 10% penetration as at May 2015 when the present government came into office.
The EVC specifically noted that one of the key ingredients for successful implementation of a programme like broadband penetration is the availability of a robust regulatory framework upon which an appropriate strategy could be based.
“We have been able to articulate a regulatory framework that will enable strategic and systematic licensing and deployment of broadband infrastructure across the country,” he said, adding that NCC has licensed two companies as infrastructure service providers for Lagos and North Central zones.
He also stated that the NCC had already advertised the bidding and selection process for interested service providers in the remaining five zones in the country for effective coverage of the nation under the Open Access Model.
“While we have been able to fine-tune the infrastructure provision licenses for Lagos and North Central zones, we have already advertised bidding and selection processes for interested service providers in the remaining five zones designed for effective coverage of the nation under the Open Access Model,” he said.
The NCC helmsman noted that the commission has initiated processes for licensing of more broadband services on the 5.4 GHz spectrum band.
“We have opened process for the allocation of frequencies in the 70/80 GHz band (EBand). Approval has been given for the deployment of 4G Long Term Evolution Technology by NATCOMS Deployment and Investment Limited, which launched the first VoLTE call on February 24, 2016,” he stated.
On quality of service, Danbatta said various measures have been taken to scale up services.
According to him, a high level task force has been constituted by the commission to identify all issues militating against quality of service in the networks, adding that the report of the committee was already being implemented for the resolution of some urgent issues militating against quality of service.
He also explained that the commission has engaged with other critical stakeholders to ensure the resolution of issues such as quality of service, multiple taxation and regulation as well as indiscriminate shutting down of live base stations.
As part of measures to ensure protection of telecommunications infrastructure, Danbatta said the commission would intensify efforts to facilitate the provision of a law to protect critical national infrastructure across the country, adding that it would impress it on the National Assembly on the need to enact a law to treat telecoms infrastructure as critical national infrastructure deserving of protection in the public interest.