Telcos turn down NCC’s N3bn subsidy for broadband provision

Telecommunication in the country failed to take advantage of the N3 billion subsidy provided by the Nigerian Communication Commission to lure them into areas of access gap in the country.  Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta said the commission is worried that telecom companies, including the licensed Infrastructure Companies, InfraCos are not coming forward to access the N3 billion annual subsidy funds it budgeted for those who would deploy services in the 200 access gap areas in the country.

This is as he also reminded critics of the commission to remember that the broadband plan set a minimum target of 20 percent and maximum of 30 percent by the end of 2018. He said that achieving 22 percent at this time means 75 percent success and surpassing the minimum threshold. He however said the maximum target of 30% would have been long achieved had other stakeholders stepped up effort a bit.

“There is more to achieving the maximum target of 30% broadband penetration by 2018 ending. But let me say without fear of contradiction that we have so far surpassed the minimum target of penetration; we are presently at 22%, and for those faulting the calculation, the figures are not from NCC but from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The broadband plan has two targets; 20 percent minimum and 30 percent 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. Explaining efforts the commission was making towards achieving the remaining eight percent before year end, Danbatta said the NCC was working with an advisory committee set up by government to increase broadband access in the country.

The committee, supervised by the Vice President, according to him is planning to lay additional 18,000km fibre infrastructure to complement the already 40,000km on ground so the entire country will experience improved access. Another measure he expressed belief to solving the broadband problem in Nigeria is the agreement of all the governors of the 36 states of the federation to abide by the National Economic Council Right of Way harmonised price of N145 per meter. He said the agreement was reached at the last National Executive Council, NEC meeting, in Abuja recently.

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