The minister of communications, Adebayo Shittu, has said government would seek better ways to bridge the infrastructure gap in the country, which is impeding broadband penetration.
He said the pressure on terrestrial broadband infrastructure, as a result of the high demand for quality broadband access by Nigerians, must be addressed.
Shittu, who spoke in Lagos at a forum recently, said Nigeria currently has less than 50,000 base stations and would require additional 800,000 base stations to substantially cover the broadband needs of the country.
The minister stated that the broadband needs of the nation could be better actualised with an appropriate ICT infrastructure design that would incorporate a national broadband infrastructure backbone, metro/intra-city fibre network, last mile services, including fibre-to-the-home, wireless network as well as network connectivity. He called on stakeholders to liaise with the ministry and make contributions towards policy formulation that would support accelerated broadband development in Nigeria.
Stakeholders at the summit, however, criticised government’s policy and implementation plans in achieving the 30 per cent broadband penetration target for the country by 2018. They advised that government should do more in empowering Nigerians to have easier access to the Internet.
Chairperson, Alliance for Affordable Internet, Dr. Omobola Johnson, said, “Although Nigeria is making progress in the area of broadband access, we need more broadband infrastructure to serve the large population of the country.
“With 92 million Internet subscribers across the country, Nigeria, no doubt, has the market for investment and we are extending the investment opportunities to both local and international investor.”
President of the Association of Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, Mr. Olusola Teniola, who spoke on the impact of broadband on Nigeria’s economy: “Globally, telecommunications infrastructure is at the heart of any global business in the modern age. From data security and data resilience requirements, through cloud connectivity issues, to low latency and time-based stamping in trading transactions, robust, reliable and resilient networks are critical.”
Teniola, who called for the review of the Internet data services provisioning market structure in the country, said, without the review, there could be serious risk of market failure with the resultant ripple effect. He said current evidence suggested that, with inflation at 17 per cent, input costs at a per unit per megabyte level shows that retail data prices on the market are unsustainable even with economies of scale, hence distortion exists that needs immediate regulatory intervention.
While listing some of the challenges of the telecommunications sector, Teniola noted that the sector is faced with the challenges of multiple taxation, uncertainty on multiple forex Windows, issues with infrastructure sharing among others, adding that they are not helping the industry to grow in any way.
CSR: MTN impacts 10m Nigerians
In fulfilling the promise of improving the quality of lives in communities, MTN Foundation’s What Can We Do Together? initiative has impacted over 10 million Nigerians in 400 communities and 347 local government areas across Nigeria.
In the 347 local government areas, the following projects have been delivered and installed: 40 transformers, 40 boreholes and 14,200 school furniture. In addition, household items have been donated to 66 orphanage homes as well as supply of medical equipment to 80 primary health care centres.
The initiative was well-received and lauded by residents in the beneficiary communities, as the foundation caters for educational needs through the donation of school furniture; health needs through the donation of medical supplies and economic empowerment intervention through the donation of transformers and boreholes across different communities.
Executive secretary, MTN Foundation, Ms. Nonny Ugboma, said that all projects were selected from a pool of thousands of nominations by members of the public in phases one and two, after rigorous screening and verification.
“At the end, 200 communities were chosen to benefit in phase one, another 200 communities in phase two and announcements were made in print, electronic and digital media platforms. We are pleased to report that all the 200 projects in phase one have been successfully implemented, while all the 200 projects in phase two are at various stages of delivery and installation” Ugboma said.
The What Can We Do Together? initiative was launched in 2015 as part of the 10th anniversary of the MTN Foundation. It was conceived as an idea to do something refreshingly different for Nigerian communities. In view of this, it is structured to allow Nigerians partner with the foundation by nominating communities to benefit from a number of projects.
In a related development, MTN’s CEO, Ferdi Moolman, has reiterated the organisation’s commitment to community development, and commended MTN staff for their enthusiastic participation in the project.
“I am extremely proud of our many employees who continue to give back to our community through volunteering. Throughout the year, our people engage in many activities designed to give back. However, 21 Days of Y’ello Care offers us a special opportunity to come together with our colleagues, family and friends to invest in tomorrow’s people,” Moolman said.
The last six years have seen MTN focus Y’ello Care initiatives on harnessing technology to improve access to education for Nigeria’s youth.