Regulator outlines measures to enhance Internet connectivity for Nigerian consumers, businesses

*The Nigerian Communications Commission explains some of the key measures it is taking to ensure Broadband and Internet connectivity positively impact telecoms consumers and businesses in the country

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

In its efforts at enabling the development of new technologies and local content, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has explained how some of the key measures it is taking will ensure Broadband and Internet connectivity impact telecoms consumers and businesses in the country.

The telecoms sector regulatory Commission also disclosed how the ongoing implementation of the new Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025 and its Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) 2021-2025 can help Nigeria to achieve this objective.

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Barr. Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management (ECSM) of the Commission, who spoke at a breakout session at the recent 2021 Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said one of the key policy instruments that guide the development of the sector is the NNBP.

Barr. Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management at NCC

He stated: “The Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025 has four critical pillars which are:  Infrastructure, Policy, Demand Drivers and Funding/Incentives.”

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The ECSM of NCC also asserted that the NNBP is unique in many respects. One, he said, is the fact that it clearly defines ‘broadband’ for Nigeria as “connectivity delivering a minimum of 10 Mbps in rural areas and a minimum of 25 Mbps in urban areas to every Nigerian at an affordable price and quality.”

On the other hand, Adewolu noted the Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) 2021-2025 is a template developed by the NCC to streamline regulatory focus for better efficiency, in alignment with relevant policy instruments.

He explained: “For the next five years, the Commission is focusing its energies on five strategic pillars. These are: Organisational renewal for operational efficiency and Regulatory excellence; Provision of infrastructure for a digital economy which fosters national development; Improved Quality of Service (QoS) for enhanced Consumer Quality of Experience (QoE); Promotion of fair competition, inclusive growth, increased investment and innovative services; and Strategic Collaboration and Partnership.”

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According to him, “the impact of connectivity on businesses and the economy, in terms of the impact of Internet connectivity on businesses and the national economy is well documented.”

He as well recalled that 10 percent increase in mobile Broadband penetration results in approximately 0.6 percent to 2.8 percent rise in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The ECSM further affirmed that everyone is a witness to the revolutionary impact of the Internet connectivity for agriculture, health, education, information and communication, as well as entertainment.

This is besides notable revolution in banking and financial services as we can see in the deployment of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and banking software.

“All industries now rely on internet connectivity provided by our mobile networks to function, such that it is impossible to imagine life without connectivity.

“In concrete terms, the Nigerian telecommunications industry has continued to lead national economic growth,” he said.

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Adewolu also noted that in recent years, the telecoms sector has consistently driven the growth of the Nigerian economy, and has provided critical infrastructure powering the digital transformation of practically all spheres of life.

He cited relevant instances, that in the second quarter of 2021, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector in Nigeria sustained its growth trajectory and contributed 17.9 percent to national GDP.

He attributed this to the growth in the telecoms sub-sector, saying, “this trend demonstrates how much our industry is supporting the achievement of Government’s drive to diversify Nigeria’s economy and to ensure inclusive growth across all other sectors.”

In practical terms, he further stated that it is difficult to imagine how Nigeria, and indeed, the global economy could have fared without the Internet during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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He insisted that the fact that the conference was holding in hybrid format was just an indication of the benefits that connectivity, which the Commission is driving, brings.

On local content, Adewolu disclosed that all the major policy instruments emphasise the need for Nigerians to take bigger roles in the ownership and management of major spheres in the sector.

He also noted that Mr. President recently launched the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector, which articulates very clear policy objectives and strategies for increasing local participation.

“It would interest you that the NCC has established a National Office for the Development of Indigenous Content in the Telecommunications Sector (NODITS) to drive the attainment of Policy objectives,” said the NCC ECSM.

Adewolu stated that all the instruments enable NCC to aggressively drive infrastructure development, ensuring that available, accessible and affordable access to Broadband infrastructure and services for all Nigerians are safeguarded.

He, thereore, expressed hope that, by the end of the NNBP’s lifecycle, the country will achieve the target of reaching an effective coverage of at least 90 percent of the Nigerian population at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data.

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