Danbatta: Why FG Can’t Achieve 30% National Broadband Target by 2018

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By Dele Ogbodo in Abuja

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has said government may not be able to attain the 30 per cent broadband target before 2018 because of inadequate infrastructure layout in the sector.

However, with only two infrastructure companies out of the seven already licensed for deployment in Lagos and North-central zones, the EVC said the NCC was committed to driving the process of the plan to completion, though it has just 24 months to go.

The NCC boss said: “We have said this must be driven by massive investment in infrastructure, otherwise, this will not be attainable.

“We are at the stage of developing the regulatory framework and we are doing that, and once this exercise is completed, we are envisaging that the licencing of the remaining zones with the provision of broadband infrastructure will take place within the next three or 4 months.”

Danbatta, who made the disclosure while addressing the 38 set of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) at Kuru in Plateau State, admitted that only seven percent of Nigerians have access to broadband services, adding that he has no access to broadband services where he lives in Kano.

He said government was committed to making broadband accessible, available and affordable to every Nigerian, adding that there should be no discrimination between the rural and urban areas.

He however attributed the lack of broadband penetration to the intra and inter infrastructure, which he said was non-existent, and where it exist, the penetration is only seven percent.

Danbatta admitting that Nigeria has a challenge of digital divide, said: “We now talk of digital divide for countries like Nigeria and the developing world. The divide is real and it is characterised by of lack adequate infrastructure.

“If it is not real how come Nigeria is rated 134 out 144 countries and other countries within Africa like Egypt and South Africa are rated higher. These countries have high speed internet meaning they have succeeded in deploying broadband infrastructure for hosting faster data speed as well as faster internet service.”

According to the EVC, something must be done urgently and consistent with the national broadband plan to address this inadequacy of infrastructure in the telecommunications sector across

He bemoaned the manner telecommunications/ fibre optics, base transceiver stations and infrastructure are being vandalised, adding that this disrupts the quality of service (QoS) being provided by telecoms operators.

On the 24 months left for the 2018 target, he said: “Well it is a target set by government and as usual, there are things that you need to do to meet targets and whatever improvement we are able to record by 2020.

“Then we will be able to say this is how much we have gone and done and this is how much that we need to go.  Because it is a plan always to be taken further beyond the deadline set for the plan.

“You know you can roll over the plan into another plan that is consistent with strategic plans as we know them there is provision for monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the plan. The idea is to be able to say this is how we have done and this is how much we have done and how we need to in that plan.”

On rollover of service operators’ fines to subscribers, Danbatta said NCC is closely monitoring them to make sure that fines slammed on them for infractions are not passed to consumers.

He said: “We are monitoring all the operators, and not only MTN, on what they are doing in order to ensure that the effect of fines are not passed on to consumers through the introduction of services that are not approved by the commission.

“If we establish such instances, of course, we have provision for taking measures to ensure that consumers are protected. All promotions intended to generate more revenue are regulated, these promotions are normally done with approval from NCC.

“We are watching and will ensure that due diligence is done in order to protect the consumer,” Danbatta stated.