Danbatta: Nigeria Can Bridge Broadband Gap through FDIs


Emma Okonji

Given the recent increase in broadband penetration from 10 per cent in 2014 to 14 per cent in August 2016, coupled with the over $35billion recorded from Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta has said Nigeria could further grow broadband penetration to surpass the projected 30 per cent broadband penetration level by 2018, through FDIs.

Danbatta, who gave the assurance at a recent telecoms forum in Lagos, said he was convinced, based on the broadband infrastructure on ground, that it is not impossible for the county to attain 30 per cent broadband penetration by 2018, contrary to widespread speculations that Nigeria may not meet the country’s projected broadband plan of attaining 30 per cent broadband penetration by 2018.

Danbatta said NCC has lined up several projects driven by broadband that would be showcased at the forthcoming ITU Telecoms World in Bangkok, Thailand, from November 14-17, 2016, intended to woo foreign investors to come to Nigeria and invest in the country’s broadband initiative.
According to Danbatta, the NCC would be hoisting an investment forum, where foreign investors would be invited to listen to the Nigerian broadband revolution, with a view to convincing foreign investors to come to Nigeria and invest in the country’s broadband.

He said there were plans by the Nigerian local organising committee, for ITU Telecoms World 2016, to sponsor and showcase technology startups who have developed solutions in the areas of security, e-health, energy and car tracking among others. Their solutions would be displayed at the Nigerian pavilion during the event. Membership of the Nigerian local organising committee is drawn from the ICT industry and headed by the Director of Spectrum Administration at NCC, Austin Nwaulunne.
Danbatta called on Nigerians, especially technology companies that have something to showcase to the entire world at ITU Telecoms World, to endeavor to attend an display their products and solutions at the Nigerian pavilion.

“We are already strategising on how we can attract more meaningful investments into our country through FDIs. There is need to fine-tune our Nigerian story in line with the growth and development of our sector. We are meant to think of ways to convince would-be investors on the potentials and capacity of our country,” Danbatta said.

He further explained that Nigeria had to be at ITU Telecoms World 2016 to tell the world of our enviable regulatory processes that have enhanced the growth of telecommunications in the country. “We will tell them how effective and transparent we are in terms of regulation, and we will still tell them about the growing demand for fast, stable and reliable internet connectivity in our country. We will tell them how the country has been receptive to investors through policies that include tax holidays and that some investors have been so encouraged to invest in the country’s Digital Mobile Licences (DMLs) since 2001,” Danbatta said.

“At Bangkok, we will also tell would-be investors that the regulator has ensured it conducts its business according to international best practices and standards, through regular interactive sessions at consultative fora with stakeholders, before arriving at directions and regulations that guide the smooth operations in the sector,” Danbatta added.

The EVC who was optimistic that the broadband revolution in the country since 2013, was already stirring up technology development in the country, said Nigeria must take the story of its broadband revolution to foreign investors that would attend ITU Telecoms World 2016, with a view to convincing them to come to Nigeria to invest in the country’s broadband. With this, we can bridge our broadband gap, through FDIs, Danbatta said.

He said although the ICT sector has recorded very significant growth in the last 15 years, when the country moved from 500,000 active lines in 2001 to 157 million active lines in 2016, and surpassed the 100 per cent threshold for teledensity to 107 per cent, but there is still much to be done to boost broadband penetration in the country.

“There is a gap in our broadband sector and we hope to bridge this gap by attracting foreign investors to come to Nigeria to invest in broadband,” Danbatta said.