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Nigeria’s telecoms access gaps drop by 53 percent -NCC

*Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission, at a recent stakeholders’ forum explains how the telecoms industry has witnessed a marked reduction by bridging 110 clusters of access gaps, representing a 53.1 percent reduction in the country’s digital ecosystem

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Further to the implementation of the digital economy agenda of the Federal Government, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has disclosed the number of identified areas of clusters  without access to the telecommunications services across the country had reduced by 53.1 percent as of the end of 2022.

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, disclosed this development in his keynote address at a recent telecoms industry stakeholders forum held in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital.

Danbatta, represented at the ‘Talk to the Regulator’ (TTTR) forum by Usman Mamman, Head of Pre-Licensing at the Commission, said from 207 clusters of access gaps in 2013, the industry had witnessed a reduction to 97 as of end last year by bridging 110 clusters of access gaps, representing a 53.1 percent reduction.

The EVC/CEO of the Commission noted that the number of Nigerian consumers, who fell within the access gap estimated at 37 million 2013 had been reduced to 27 million.

He attributed the improvement to increased access to telecoms services by those hitherto not digitally included in the ecosystem.

What are access gaps?

ConsumerConnect reports the telecoms sector regulatory Commission has described ‘Access Gaps’ as the cluster of communities or grouped areas in different parts of the country that are bereft of access to telecoms services.

Danbatta further disclosed that till date, the NCC has reduced clusters of access gap by more than half.

“We have worked tirelessly to ensure we bring telecoms services to people living in rural, unserved, and underserved areas of this country, totalling 37 million people courtesy of the consultancy that was conducted in 2013.

“By 2019, we had succeeded in reducing the clusters of access gaps to 114 through the deployment of the necessary infrastructure needed to bring services to people living in rural, unserved and underserved areas of the country,” he stated in his keynote address at the event.

The Executive Vice-Chairman also explained: “The deployment of infrastructure is in terms of base transceiver stations, which resulted in the reduction of Nigerians in those clusters from 37 million to 31 million in 2019.

“By 2022, we have reduced the clusters of access gaps to 97 from 207 in 2013.

“The number of Nigerians again have come down from 37 million in 2013 to 27 million as we speak. We achieved this by deploying, from 2009 to 2011, a total of 79 new base transceiver stations.”

Danbatta as well said that from 2013 to 2018, the Nigerian telecoms sector also witnessed the deployment of additional 124 base transceiver stations while from 2019 to 2022, a total of 364 base transceiver stations were deployed.

He stressed, “so far, the total number of base transceiver stations we have deployed to date between the time the access gaps were identified till the end of 2022 are 567.”

‘Reduction in access gaps a landmark’

Describing the reduction in access gaps so far a landmark, Danbatta, however, said the Commission would continue in the same routine, as telecoms industry regulator thrives to ensure that the remaining 27 million Nigerians, who currently lack access are provided with telecoms services.

Meanwhile, the EVC/CEO of NCC has said part the regulatory interventions of the Commission to bridge the remaining 97 access across the country to provide ubiquitous connectivity in all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria are the issuance of the Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) Licences and the deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) networks, among others.

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