Nigeria is required to invest some $10 billion over the next five years in order to facilitate the build out of requisite internet broadband infrastructure needed to sustain government’s plan to diversify the economy away from oil, said Joseph Tegbe, partner, management consulting at KPMG.
Speaking at the MainOne-BusinessDay Broadband Summit 2015 in Lagos, recently, Tegbe pointed out that the rollout of fibre networks on an open-access, price regulated and non-discriminatory basis would assist the nation meet the broadband targets clearly outlined in the National Broadband Policy (NBP).
Industry experts, who spoke with our correspondent at the forum themed, “Driving Accelerated Broadband Penetration in Nigeria,” said many telecommunications operators were currently unable to attract reasonably priced, long-term funding required to deploy and operate broadband fibre networks.
According to them, telcos’ ability to sustain investment in network expansion initiatives is largely dependent on the removal of prevailing operational bottlenecks such as vandalism of telecoms equipments, multiple taxation, inordinate Right of Way (RoW) charges as well as the prohibitive cost of doing business.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), industry regulator, Tegbe said, launched the Open Access Next Generation Broadband Network (NGBN) in 2013, which paved the way for the licensing of regionally based Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos). The InfraCos are expected to further accelerate the rollout of a nationwide metropolitan and backbone fibre network.
The commission had earlier declared that MainOne, underwater cable operator, and IHS Towers as the respective winning bidders for InfraCo licences in Lagos region and North Central Zone, which surrounds Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
“The process to license the remaining InfraCos will begin very soon. Deployment of fibre on an Open access and non-discriminatory basis helps reduce duplication and increases broadband speeds,” he said. According to him, the lofty objective of establishing InfraCos is to have a single body to reach agreements with state governments on RoW charges and taxes.
During her welcome address, Funke Opeke, CEO, MainOne, urged for further collaboration in the industry in order to provide broadband connectivity services to more of the Nigerian populace.
About 156 million Nigerians, out of a population of 170 million, the bulk of whom are rural dwellers, have no access to real broadband connectivity.
She stressed the need for stakeholders to jointly address the challenges of low broadband penetration as a community of concerned parties with benefits from improvement poised to accrue to all.
The Broadband Summit provides a platform for the telecom industry to articulate its perspectives on the landscape, and devise strategies that will hasten broadband penetration in Nigeria.