• Friday, June 21, 2024
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Nigeria plans local government broadband, misses 50% target

Nigeria plans local government broadband, misses 50% target

Nigeria has revealed a plan to provide internet and digital access to all the 774 local government secretariats in the country.

The government hopes that improved connectivity will provide local governments with reliable and affordable internet access and resources required to deliver efficient public services, promote transparency, stimulate economic growth, and enhance citizen engagement.

It aims to achieve this through strategic partnerships and the deployment of fibre optics cable nationwide, according to a document seen by BusinessDay. The Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited and Galaxy Backbone, under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, will co-anchor the project, according to ‘Bosun Tijani, the minister.

The ministry said the project will drive transformation and unlock opportunities to deliver sustainable development in the country.

“By acting as economic information hubs that can provide access to online markets and research for small and medium enterprises, local businesses can expand their reach, attract new customers and stimulate local economic activity,” it added.

The government said it will ensure robust investment in broadband infrastructure without providing details about how it will fund the plan.

Meanwhile, the country missed its 50 percent broadband target for 2023, new data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) shows.

Broadband penetration fell to 43.71 percent as of December 2023 from 47.36 percent in the same period in 2022. In the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020–2025) policy document, the government had set a target of 50 percent for 2023 and 70 percent for 2025.

While broadband subscriptions increased to 94.76 million as of December 2023 (a 2.75 million increase in the year), penetration fell by 4.49 percentage points. This was mainly due to the NCC adjustment of the telecoms sector statistical indicators to reflect the latest population growth figures.

Commenting on the impact of its move, the commission said, “With the consequential adjustment, which is in line with the International Telecommunication Union’s calculation of teledensity, the nation’s teledensity dropped from 115.63 percent to 102.30 percent in September, while Broadband penetration witnessed a similar drop from 45.47 percent to 40.85 percent in the same month.”

Read also: Nigeria, World Bank target $3bn to boost broadband

Broadband refers to high-speed internet connection, and broadband penetration is measured by the number of broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants. Expanding broadband access has been linked to increased jobs and reduced poverty.

Teledensity, the number of active telephone connections per 100 inhabitants living within an area, fell to 103.66 percent in 2023. The total number of mobile subscriptions in 2023 rose to 224.41 million, and active mobile internet subscriptions hit 163.84 million.

To improve broadband in the country, Tijani recently announced that the Federal Government and the World Bank were collaborating to raise $3 billion to fund an additional 120,000km of fibre optic cables to boost broadband infrastructure and connectivity nationwide.

Read also: IHS Nigeria deploys 10,000kms fiber optic cables to drive broadband penetration

As of the end of 2023, only 78,676km of fibre optic cables have been deployed in the country.

While announcing the deal, the minister said: “We are here with critical stakeholders on how to attract investments and fund our broadband infrastructure. I’m sure everybody listening to me understands that we cannot do without technology and the internet; we all need quality access regardless of location.”

According to Franz Gross, the World Bank’s regional director (infrastructure) for West and Central Africa, the project’s first phase would involve laying 95,000km of fibre optic cables across the country.

“We plan to set up a digital national broadband fund and roll out about 95,000 kilometres of middle mile cable. That’s terrestrial cable in Nigeria to bring broadband to more parts of the country,” he said.