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This is as Nigeria continues to make efforts to deepen its broadband penetration in the telecoms industry.

During the National Strategic Mobilization for the Actualization of National Broadband Target of 70% Conference and  Exhibition with a theme – Realizing the new set target of 70% of Broadband Penetration, Engr. Ikechukwu Nnamani, president of ATCON, said the meeting is an opportunity to review the relevance of the Nigerian policy environment vis-a-vis the telecom operating environment.

Furthermore, he said the importance of the event is to complement the various strategic activities already embarked upon by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and all the agencies under the Ministry to achieve the set target of Broadband penetration in Nigeria with great speed.

“As often the case with us at ATCON, the strategic objectives of this very important event are to complement the various strategic activities already embarked upon by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and all the agencies under the Ministry to achieve the set target of Broadband penetration in Nigeria with great speed.

“To leverage on the wide spectrum of ATCON’ sub-groups for effective participation in the new Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 by allowing them to access the plan and suggest various ways to speed up the realization of the established target by the government and also serve as a veritable platform to galvanize the needed input that reflects the thinking of the telecom and ICT sector,” he said.

Engr. Nnamani stated that “the focus of discussion at this conference would focus on two panel sessions – State of the Broadband Implementation in Nigeria by MNOs, Submarine Cable Operators, InfraCos, Metro Fiber Providers, Long-Distance Providers and Impact of Broadband Infrastructure on OTT Services Providers, FINTECH/e-Commerce Operator, Equipment Vendors, VAS Providers, Satellite Operators, Internet Services Providers, Manufacturer Representatives and Data Centre Operators.”

In his address, Professor Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said Nigeria has one of the largest telecom markets in Africa with an estimated population of over 200 million people.

He said enabling full connectivity and broadband access for a minimum of 70 per cent of the growing population is a vision that the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) seeks to achieve and surpass within the time frame of 2020-2025.

Professor Danbatta further noted that at the launch of the NNBP in 2020, the Broadband penetration, which was largely driven by mobile technology, was slightly below 40%. By December 2020, penetration of 45.93% had been attained.

He said as of April 2022, the penetration stands at 42.79%. The reasons for fluctuation according to him are quite obvious and that informed the strategic initiatives of the Commission to deepen the penetration of fixed broadband infrastructure which will guarantee very steady broadband services and provide higher capacity.

The NCC Boss said the NNBP articulates some critical Priority initiatives aimed at fast tracking the deepening of Broadband penetration across the country.

Professor Danbatta highlighted some of the challenges impeding broadband penetration to include  “inability of Infracos to raise takeoff capital to commence infrastructure deployment, failure of State governments to honor the agreement with stakeholders to peg the RoW at N145/meter, action of some State Governments, cancelling existing RoW and awarding exclusive RoW to one company in the State,outright refusal of some States to even discuss RoW with licensed Regional Infracos.

“Failure of mobile network operators to sign off-taker agreements with the Licensed Infracos – that would have facilitated their access to loan facilities, inequitable license conditions against the Infracos who are required to use higher specifications and standards for deployment of infrastructure; this is already being addressed by the Commission, insecurity in many parts of the country.

“Lack of adequate publicity, sensitization of critical stakeholders, failure of government to plough back part of proceeds of spectrum fees into infrastructure development, since the inception of telecom liberalization in 2001.

Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State Governor represented by Engr (Mrs) Bisoye Coker Odusote, general manager Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency (LASIMRA), said the National Broadband plan aligns with and critical to his administration’s T.H.E.M.E.S agenda.

Governor Sanwo-Olu said Lagos is strategic to the attainment of our national goal on broadband penetration and in the forefront in terms of the provision of all that is required in the areas of policy and the appropriate infrastructure not only to achieve the national goal but also bringing to reality our smart city project.