NIGERIA – Following the recent declaration by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) that African governments should provide broadband access as basic rights to their citizens, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said it is working towards a future era, where broadband internet connectivity would be provided free for all Nigerians.

Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, who made the disclosure during a recent interactive session in Kano, where he addressed stakeholders from the North West, North Central and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), however said there must be ubiquitous broadband infrastructure across the nooks and crannies of the country, to enable Nigeria attain the future status of providing free broadband internet connectivity for all Nigerians.

“NCC is already working to achieve this feat, through the commitment of the commission to licence fresh Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) this year that will complement the existing two InfraCos, to provide the much needed broadband infrastructure across the country,” Danbatta said.

He added that NCC had also concluded plans to provide better incentives for the InfraCos, to enhance speedy and widespread broadband infrastructure for the country. 

“We look forward to when internet connectivity will be free and I know we will get there,” Danbatta said, adding that data transmission through broadband, is the next revolution in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector and “we have repackaged policies to fuel this growth and our 8-point agenda takes good care of this, in ensuring that internet will not only be available, but will also be accessible and affordable.”

So we have put in place measures to improve internet connectivity in the country through pervasive broadband availability, he said.

Danbatta’s 8-point agenda, which was released recently, covered 2015 to 2020 plan, designed to bring about social benefits and inclusiveness for national development through broadband penetration.

Although the agenda and vision look quite interesting, industry experts said Danbatta has a lot of work to do in driving the people and the processes that will lead to the successful implementation of the agenda and vision for the telecoms industry.

The extra efforts, according to them became necessary, in view of the slow growth of broadband penetration in the country since 2011.

Nigeria was able to attain only 10 per cent broadband penetration by December 2015, a situation that industry stakeholders had criticised , saying that broadband penetration had been too slow in the past years.

Danbatta however stressed that broadband is the next frontier in the ICT industry that would help speedy transformation of the Nigerian economy. 

“We will promote innovation, investment, competition and consumer empowerment, through broadband deployment, in order to grow our economy, create jobs and enhance national competitiveness, and as well as address network quality of service for all Nigerians,” he said.

According to him, the broadband penetration agenda would be achieved through the national broadband plan, while the role of the NCC in the plan would be to prioritise the broadband infrastructure within the cities and subsequently in the rural areas.

“We recognise the importance of providing an enabling environment for ICT development, enhancing and modernising our institutional capacity, facilitating sector infrastructure, efficient and qualitative service provision and promoting sector market development,” Danbatta said.

He added that all these can only be achieved if there is a renewed and increased coordination for the common good of nation building, but explained that as an organisation, NCC would be committed to refocus its energy and resources towards this common good, while calling on stakeholders to join hands with NCC in what he described as patriotic duty.

February 18, 2016;