Danbatta: Broadband key to achieving Nigeria’s financial inclusion target

The Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Prof. Umar Danbatta, has said that the country would need more broadband penetration to achieve its financial inclusion target. This, he said, would enable more Nigerians to access digital financial services through their phones and other internet devices.

The NCC boss stated this while delivering a lecture at the 5th Annual ‘The Bullion Lecture’ held in Lagos today.  According to him a report by the Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA) indicated that even though its data showed that more people have become financially included, the financial inclusion pace was not matching the country’s population growth rate. “Therefore, to achieve an accelerated financial inclusion target that the country desires, even as the population grows, technology and more importantly, broadband, has to play a massive significant role and what I see technology doing in terms of Nigeria’s financial inclusion is actually to democratise access,” he said.

In doing this, Danbatta said the NCC had embarked on various regulatory initiatives that continued to increase access to telephone lines and improve access to high-speed Internet or broadband. “This is in line with the Commission’s mandate of ensuring universal access to telecoms services in the country consistent with the ITU’s goal of achieving digital inclusion, globally.

“Foremost amongst these regulatory initiatives, is the implementation of the Open Access Model for infrastructure deployment through the competitively selected Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) called the InfraCo Project: The InfraCo initiative is expected to provide, at a minimum, broadband fibre and connectivity to every Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the Federation, totaling 774 fibre Points of Access (PoAs) with a minimum speed of 10 Gbps which will translate to, at least,  38,296km of Optic Fibre Cable (OFC) to the Transmission over the next years,” he said.

Danbatted noted that the Commission had licensed six of the seven InfraCos to implement this project and it was intended that the presence of fibre point of access in each LGA would not only spur development, lower cost of entry for telcos and bring about innovative services and applications, but also, improve the conditions of living in the rural, urban and semi-urban areas, especially with respect to access to financial services.

“The InfraCo Project can be considered as the beginning of the ‘Next Level’ journey towards achieving the 120,000km target of fibre connectivity set by the current administration. We have recently begun a process to strategically review the InfraCo framework and its funding options towards ensuring effective implementation of the national fibre project. When fully implemented, it will ensure robust and pervasive broadband infrastructure to drive availability, accessibility and affordability of financial services,” the NCC boss said.

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