Nigeria: NCC To Accelerate Broadband Services, Lobbies Investors

NCC

VENTURES AFRICA – To facilitate growth and viability of IT services, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Executive Vice Chairman, Dr. Eugene Juwah, has revealed a master plan intended to launch the country into the global broadband community.

The new plan is focused on accelerating broadband connectivity at affordable rate to customers. It will encompass the current State Accelerated Broadband Initiative, SABI, and the Wire Nigeria Initiative, WIN, programmes of the Commission.

Juwah disclosed this at the Nigerian Broadband Forum held at the Eko Hotels, Lagos. The forum had in attendance international audience which includes the Nigeria’s Communications Technology Minister, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, Representative of the ITU Secretary General, Mr. Desire Karyabwite, the Secretary of the Africa Telecommunications Union, ATU, Mr. Abdoulkarim Soumaila, and a wide range of experts and Nigerian stakeholders.

The masterplan which was crystallised through the “Open Access Model” is expected to help Nigeria plug into the global knowledge grid and stay competitive with other countries. The open access model is guided by an industry structure of the one implemented in Australia.

According to Juwah, the key element driving the objective focus on the open access deployment of fibre infrastructure is to achieve high level of penetration across all geo-political zones, contribute to GDP growth and development of knowledge economy, provide competitive and affordable pricing, and ensure intelligent incentives to support industry players while equipping Nigeria with leading infrastructure in Africa.

Explaining the market service structure in the Nigerian model, Juwah said the plan involves provision of non discriminatory broadband access and services to end users, and provision of non-discriminatory equal wholesale broadband connectivity using active infrastructure, while NetCos build and operate passive infrastructure.

Meanwhile the Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union, Dr. Hamadoun Toure, in an address relayed on video at the forum, persuaded the government to support every effort directed towards broadband availability in Nigeria as this is the focus of the global ICT community.

In a related development, the Communications Technology Minister, Mrs. Omobola Johnson will be leading high powered delegation of the Nigeria telecommunication industry to this year’s International Telecommunications Union, ITU Telecoms World conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirate to attract investors.

The country’s representatives include government officials, policy makers, the regulatory body, telecommunications companies and stakeholders in the industry.

NCC’s Vice Chairman stated that activities and strategies to be used by the country have been outlined to ensure that every strong ICT investor that attends the Dubai event would emerge as a potential investor in Nigeria’s broadband sector.

He affirmed that the main reason for the country’s focus on broadband development is that no matter the tag that Nigeria was doing well in internet penetration, the high cost of bandwidth due to its unavailability on demand calls for worry.

He also stated that although much progress has been made in voice telephony, the data aspect of the sector is still poor and far between.

“ Indeed, operators in Nigeria spend an average of between $400m and $500m yearly on bandwidth imported from foreign service providers and this has accumulative negative effect on the end users who have no choice but bear the high cost of this all important tool for fast internet speed and data transmission,” Juwah added.

“We want to tell potential investors that Nigeria remains the preferred investment destination in Africa. We will also explain to the potential investors the areas that still needed their attention since we have made a sizeable progress in voice telephony.

“For instance broadband as a technology is the direction the world is going now. It is about bringing developing countries like Nigeria to the knowledge economy where so much can be done on telemedicine, tele-education, via the internet”.

The ITU Telecoms world conference in Dubai is taking place from October 14-18 and is expected to enable Nigeria to showcase its investment potentials. The event brings together industry players, policy makers, regulators, operators, government officials, technology experts and investors.

Broadband development will help facilitate the evolving ICT services which will eventually lead to an increase the national GDP in Africa’s most populous nation.