The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said it will be facilitating the deployment of 120,000 kilometres of fibre in the next five years. This, the commission said, would be achieved through the implementation of the National Broadband Plan (NBP 2020-2025). The Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, who disclosed this, said the NCC under his leadership had already facilitated an increase in fibre deployment from 47,000 kilometres to 54,725. “In line with Federal Government’s target, additional 120,000 kilometres of fibre are being planned over the next four years. In this regard, the NCC is working on last-mile connectivity to different parts of the country through leveraging the 40 terabyte capacity of five submarine cables on the coastal shores of Nigeria,” he said.
Against this backdrop, the EVC said the attainment of 70 per cent broadband penetration by 2025 would be one of his top priorities in the next five years. Speaking at an interactive session with media chiefs, Danbatta, who was recently reappointed for a second term of five years, said his regulatory priority areas would also include consumer protection and empowerment; and consolidation of spectrum trading to ensure maximum and efficient usage of available frequencies. Other areas of focus, according to him, will include continuous SIM registration audit to provide security and curtail incidences of banditry, kidnapping, and armed robbery; creation of Emergency Communications Centres (ECCs) in more states of the federation; and execution of the counterpart funding agreements with the licensed infrastructure companies (InfraCos) to facilitate the digital transformation of the economy.
Speaking on his achievements in the last five years, Danbatta said that the diligent implementation of NCC’s Strategic Vision Plan (SVP), which focused on the 8-Point Agenda, had helped to lift broadband penetration from six per cent in 2015 to 42.02 per cent by July 2020. The sector’s contribution to GDP increased from 8.50 per cent in 2015 to 14.30 per cent in the second quarter of 2020. In financial terms, Danbatta said the Q2’20 contribution translates to N2.272 trillion. He noted that when he came on board five years ago, 217 access gap clusters were identified in the country affecting 40 million Nigerians without access to telecoms services.
“But today, we have reduced the access gap clusters to 114 with 15 million of the 40 million digitally excluded Nigerians now having access to telecoms services. “We are committed to addressing the remaining access gap clusters, which are areas outside the frontier of economic viability to ensure the remaining 25 million Nigerians have access,” he said.
On capital importation, the EVC said in 2015, foreign direct investment in the telecom sector stood at $1 billion but declined to $212 million by 2018. Noting, however, that through regulatory efforts, the FDI in the sector has picked up again reaching $930 million according to recent figures from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Danbatta also talked about the various consumer-centric initiatives his leadership has put in place to strengthen consumer protection and empowerment.
These include the declaration of 2017 as the Year of the Consumer, the introduction of the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) 2442 Short Code, the introduction of the NCC toll-free Number 622 and the stringent provisions of Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) registration guidelines and the issuance of direction on forceful subscription among others.