The executive vice chairman and chief executive officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Umar Danbatta, says efforts are ongoing to deploy telecoms infrastructure across 774 local government areas (LGA) in Nigeria.
Danbatta said this on Wednesday while speaking at the 2021 national conference exhibitions in Abuja.
He reassured that the deficit in telecommunications will be addressed by the federal government.
The challenges, he attributed partly to inadequate ICT infrastructure, cost of ICT infrastructure deployment, and challenges of energy (electricity).
According to him, the plan is to improve Nigeria’s broadband infrastructure, as the LGAs have been divided into seven (7) Zones, consisting of the existing six constitutional geopolitical divisions, and Lagos constituting the seventh, considering the importance of Lagos as a strategic commercial and technological hub within the structure of Nigeria’s telecom ecosystem.
He also said that the commission anticipates seeing Infracos attain a creditable level of deployment in the cities and discharges the burden of proof of the existence of access points in LGAs in the next five months.
With this, the chairman said that every community has a role to play in achieving this plan.
“In the interest of the Nigerian people and start-ups, who have been waiting for the deployment of rural tech solutions to make contributions to the growth of the economy by exploring derivable benefits that accrue from a digitised economy,” he added.
“The provision of infrastructure in rural areas plays a significant role in promoting entrepreneurship and economic progress for its dwellers and serves as an enabler of a better quality of life for rural dwellers through the diversification of the rural economy that digital culture enhances.”
Emphasising the benefits of the digital economy and how collaboration with stakeholders has been brought to fulfilment, he said: “NCC has been collaborating with stakeholders, including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to ensure the target of 80 percent digital inclusion is achieved within the timeframe.
“NCC’s interventions to accelerate the bridging of the digital divide to include: construction of 250 kilometers of Backbone Transmission infrastructure (BTRAIN); 72 Rural Broadband Initiative (RUBI) projects; 1,334 School Knowledge Centres (SKCs); 192 Community Resource Centres (CRCs); Development and deployment of 218 of Local Content for E-Learning; 74 Information Resource Centres (E-Library); Clusters of Access Gaps Reduced from 217 to 112; Digitally Excluded Nigerians reduced from 40 million to 15 million.”
Danbatta further added that despite being Africa’s largest ICT market and a dominant player in the sector, the country still accounts for a sizeable percentage of the one billion world population of unconnected people.
He, however, added that the digital economy, particularly expansion projects in rural areas, is central to bridging the digital divide in Nigeria.