Stakeholders worry over Unrealistic of 30% national broadband coverage by 2018

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Nahimah Ajikanle Nurudeen

Stakeholders in the Nigeria’s telecommunications sector have expressed concerns over realistic of achieving the 30per cent national broadband coverage in Nigeria by 2018.

Though, Nigeria currently has 21 per cent penetration, the Federal Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP), targets 30 per cent penetration and 80 per cent Internet penetration across the country by next year.

The stakeholders who spoke at the 4th edition of BusinessDay Media Limited Broadband Summit 2017 in Lagos maintained that the projecti is not realisable because the current economic situation is not encouraging investments that would drive penetration.

They lamented that Nigeria is lagging behind in terms of the implementation of majority part of the NBP, which has a five year time frame (2013 to 2018).

The stakeholders streeed the need for a national broadband fibre provider.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MainOne, Funke Opeke, said that broadband was an enabler of economic growth but, recession had changed the dynamics of the broadband industry.

According to her, the industry depended on importation of its infrastructure and there had been the challenge of foreign exchange.

She noted that broadband is the step toward economy recovery.
Opeke said,  “There is need to know we can create more power houses like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Alibaba, among other to develop the economy.”

President,Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola said according to a study carried out by NCC, Nigeria Broadband Penetration in 2014 was 6%, 2015 was 10% and in 2016 was less than 16% if, “we are to go by the trend we can safely conclude that the target set for 2018 may not be met.”

He maintained that government needs to address issues affecting telecoms sector such as competition practice regulation, Multiple taxation, Multiple FOREX which windows creates uncertainty and Infrastructure sharing.

Teniola listed other challenges calling for urgent resolve as very low incidence of 3G coverage across all parts of Nigeria; multiple regulation on the same infrastructure; long delays in the issuance of permits for new infrastructure; prohibitive charges to secure Right of Way; Under-utilized Right of Way by way of limited access; high incidence of vandalization of ICT infrastructure and severe power challenges for communication infrastructure.

Teniola noted that Broadband will create employment in various sectors especially for youths and the support of Local Content within the ICT industry.

He said, “As we know, broadband is an enabler of economic growth. In the 21st century, it is impossible to imagine our lives without the web. It has proven to be tremendously useful for all facets of life.”

Also, the CEO of Spectranet, David Venn, said for the country to benefit from broadband revolution, there was the need for the National Broadband Fibre provider.

This Venn said is important and urgent because the next phase of revolution is broadband.

According to him, broadband would have greater impact on the lives of Nigerians, hence, the need to ensure it got to every part of the country.

He advised that the challenges hindering broadband penetration should be addressed.

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