NCC tackles critics on 30% broadband target

With just two weeks to the end of this year, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has chided critics over their raiding doubt on the possibility of Nigerian ending 2018 with 30 per cent broadband penetration.
The country, in its National Broadband Plan 2013-2018, had set a target of 30 per cent broadband penetration for itself by 2018.
However, as at end of 2016, the country had only achieved 21 per cent broadband penetration, raising questions if the country could achieve the set target, which is just a year away.
Speaking on the sideline of the 2017 edition of the Nigeria Mobile Economy Summit (NIMES) in Lagos, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said instead of falling short of the target, Nigeria would end up “surpassing the 30 per cent figure by 2018.”
Danbatta, who received African Information Society Merit Award at the event, said that the plan of the commission to achieve 30 per cent broadband penetration in Nigeria by 2018 remains achievable.
Though, experts in the Nigerian Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector have, on many occasions expressed fears of failing to meet the threshold due to certain identified bottlenecks, the NCC has expressed different feelings about the broadband projects to allay such fears.
Dambatta, who was represented by the Director, Research and Development, NCC, Iyabo Sholanke, said several efforts by the commission to drive the broadband initiative in the country had started to yield substantial positive results.
He added that the licensing of more Infracos, which are the companies that will drive the penetration of high speed internet in the country, was underway and will happen soon, though no specific time was stated.
“We are working towards 30 per cent penetration though, but I am sure that before the stipulated time for the target, we would have achieved more than that. We are licensing more Infrcos soon and we are using the open access model in doing this to encourage companies to actually deploy broadband infrastructures in the country,” he said.
The commission also said that most obstacles against broadband deployment are being taken care off.
Among other inimical issues, Sholanke cited multiple taxation and shutting down of base stations by state government authorities as challenges that are now being contained through engagement with the governments and other stakeholders.
“As you must have noticed, the spate of shutting down of base stations has reduced.

This is because we have been talking to relevant stakeholders such as state governments’ authorities to appreciate the fact that they need to support the drive of ICT infrastructure in Nigeria.
“We made them realise that it is not all about the money; it is about how we can jointly develop the ICT industry in the country for the benefit of all Nigerians.

We have also signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the security outfits and so, I believe things are getting better now,” he said.

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