By Nse Anthony-Uko
(Sundiata Post) – The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has urged financial institutions to support the operators in the deployment of infrastructure to the hinterlands, saying it would help the nation meet its 2018 30 per cent broadband penetration target.
This call was made by the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, during his paper presentation themed, “Leveraging on ICT for Sustainable Economic Development” at the 16th meeting of the Joint Planning Board and National Council on Development Planning (NCDP) in Minna.
Danbatta described the current 21 per cent broadband penetration and 90 million teledensity in the country is unacceptable, saying the commission is working hard to meet the 2018 target.
He said: ‘‘Even with success recorded in voice, if it not replicated in data, we cannot claim to be successful. We have 10 terabytes of fibre ready to be deployed but we cannot deploy this capacity due to the existing infrastructure. That is why the Commission is working hard to avoid a repeat of negative effects of data divide in other countries.’’
The EVC represented by director of Policy Competition and Economic Analysis department, Mrs Josephine Amuwa, said the commission is doing a lot in bridging data divide by providing infrastructure in schools and other unserved areas as well as giving subsidy to the operators through the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF).
According to him, ‘‘Funding has always being the challenge. You need a lot of funds to roll out infrastructure. We still encourage banks in Nigeria to support operators that is the way to go. One of the things we are doing is to ensure that that the infrastructure companies, Infracos are Licensed. So, we are putting up advertisement for expression of interest and we have gotten a number of people who are interested.
‘‘We are working on it and soon will announce those licenses. With their coming in, they will start building their network that is how we are going to achieve the 30 per cent target. The digital divide cannot be bridged at ones. That is why we are doing the licensing, encouraging investments into the country that is what we have to do to ensure that the divide is not widened.”
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