The Presidential Advisory Committee on Broadband through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) enlisted the services of four broadband companies namely IHS Ltd, Phase 3 Ltd, Main One Cable Ltd and Broadbased Communications Ltd to deploy additional 18, 000 kilometres of fibre optic cable across the 774 local government areas of the country.
Executive vice chairman of NCC, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, who disclosed this in his office in Abuja last week, said the country actually needs to have 120,000 kilometres of fibre optic cable to cover the entire country and have ubiquitous broadband coverage.
Danbatta said at the moment, Nigeria only has 43,000 kilometres of laid broadband cables. However, efforts are on to ensure that an additional 18,000 kilometres of broadband cables were laid to complement what the country already has.
He said a presidential advisory committee headed by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo was setup by the federal government to oversee the development.
“This will complement the 120,000km of fibre optic cable that the country needs to ensure maximum broadband connectivity, which will address the country’s challenges of intra and inter broadband connectivity.
“Our plan is to make Nigeria a fibre connected nation across all its 774 local government areas. Every local government in the country deserves to have broadband connectivity and this can be achieved through additional deployment of broadband infrastructure. So we need targeted deployment across the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, Danbatta said NCC was worried that telecom companies, including the licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) were not taking up the N3 billion annual subsidy matching funds the Commission budgets for those who would deploy services in the 200 access gap areas especially in the underserved and unserved areas in rural and semi-rural communities in the country.
This is as he also reminded critics of the commission to remember that the broadband plan set a minimum target of 20 per cent and maximum of 30 per cent by the end of 2018. He said that achieving 22 per cent at this time means 75 per cent success and surpassing the minimum threshold.
He however said the maximum target of 30 per cent would have been long achieved had other stakeholders stepped up effort a bit. “There is more to achieving the maximum target of 30 per cent broadband penetration by 2018 ending. But let me say without fear of contradiction that we have so far surpassed the minimum target of penetration; we are presently at 22 per cent, and for those faulting the calculation, the figures are not from NCC but from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
“The broadband plan has two targets 20 percent minimum and 30 per cent maximum. We have surpassed the minimum and are doing everything within our powers to make the maximum but other stakeholders must also do their bits. It will interest you to know that the NCC is not the only stakeholder in the broadband penetration pursuit,” he explained.
He urged other regulatory bodies and government agencies such as the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) vested with the responsibility of capacity building; Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) responsible for stimulating the interest of students towards ICT and Galaxy backbone, which has the role of bringing ICT into governance, among others to play their part.
“It is not in the hand of NCC alone to achieve the target, but when all these stakeholders do their own bits, we’ll achieve the target together,” Danbatta stated.
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