Communications Minister, Barr. Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu has assured stakeholders in the Nigerian telecommunications sector on the Federal Government commitment to providing lasting solutions to the challenges facing the industry.
Speaking in Lagos at the 4th edition of the annual BusinessDay Broadband Summit, Shittu informed that the Ministry has already taken some measures to address the concerns raised by stakeholders over the challenges militating against ICT infrastructure rollout especially the multiple and exorbitant Right of Way (RoW) charges.
According to him, it is a well-known fact globally that ICT, and most especially broadband, is an important asset for the Socio-economic development of every Country.
He noted that Nigeria enjoyed varying levels of development and successes in ICT infrastructure deployment and development ranging from submarine cable landings at the shores of the Country with a total capacity of about 11Terabits, the liberalization and deregulation of the Telecommunications sector, the increased utilization of Mobile Broadband access etc.
Shittu explained that more Government services are currently being delivered online which has further raised the demand for broadband access and creation of new business opportunities.
The Minister stated that high demand for quality broadband access has exerted enormous pressure on the existing terrestrial broadband infrastructure.
He said, “Government recognized this challenge and has taken bold steps to create an enabling environment for interested investors to key into the opportunities presented by the infrastructure gap.
“Nigeria currently has less than 50,000 base stations and still requires 70,000 to 80,000 base stations to substantially cover the broadband needs of the nation. The Ministry is of the view that the broadband needs of the nation can be better actualized with an appropriate ICT infrastructure design that will incorporate a National Broadband Infrastructure Backbone, Metro/Intra-City Fibre Network, Last mile services including Fibre to the Home (FTTH ) and wireless network as well as WiFi connectivity.”
He said to achieve the Nigerian National Broadband Plan and Strategy 2013 – 2018 to facilitate broadband infrastructure development and deepen broadband penetration, the Nigerian National Broadband Council inaugurated by the immediate past minister, Dr. (Mrs.) Omobola Johnson in 2013 has been reconstituted in May, 2017.
He said, “Stakeholders are therefore invited to liaise with the Ministry and make quality contributions towards policy formulation that will support an accelerated broadband development in Nigeria.
“I urge all Nigerians and the General Public to contribute their quota towards the achievement of a ubiquitous broadband infrastructure for the nation.”
The Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo had decried loss of about 21 members to both economy and operational challenges in the country in the last 10 years.
Adebayo warned that if care is not taken, more service players might still die before the year ends.
He explained that the operators, which had exited the Nigerian telecoms space, including Multilinks, Starcomms, O’Net, among others left because of economic and operational challenges.
Adebayo called on government at all levels to protect telecommunications sector and it infrastructure because of its immense contribution to the growth of the economy.
He also stressed the need for sanction against telecoms infrastructure theft and vandalism saying that within the last five months, the surviving operators lost over 20, 000 batteries to theft and vandals.
He disclosed that some of the batteries, according to investigations carried out were sold to some inverter operators in the country.