Amidst high inflation leading to increase in prices of several commodities, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that its ongoing efforts towards deepening broadband penetration would lead to a 61 per cent drop in the cost of data in Nigeria. From the current average cost of N1000 per gigabyte, the Commission said it is targeting a reduction to around N390 per gigabyte.
The telecoms regulator’s efforts which include licensing of infrastructure companies (InfraCos) to deploy broadband infrastructure across the country and the facilitation of 4G base station deployment, among several others, are expected to lead to this price reduction.
According to the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, the licensing of six InfraCos to deploy fibre infrastructure across the six-geo political zones will also help to galvanise increased connectivity. “This will also bring about a reduction in the cost of data from N1000, per gigabyte of data to around N390 with broadband penetration target of 70 per cent to cover 90 per cent of the population within the next five years as contained in the new National Broadband Plan (2020-2025),” the EVC said.
Danbatta, who stated this at an interactive session with media chiefs over the weekend listed NCC’s regulatory priority areas for the next five years include facilitating attainment of 70 per cent broadband penetration by 2025; consumer protection and empowerment; and consolidation of spectrum trading to ensure maximum and efficient usage of available frequencies.
Other areas of focus, according to him, include continuous SIM registration audit to provide security and curtail incidences of banditry, kidnapping, and armed robbery; creation of Emergency Communications Centres (ECCs) in more states of the federation; and execution of the counterpart funding agreements with the licensed Infrastructure companies (InfraCos) to facilitate the digital transformation of the economy.
Speaking on his achievements in the last five years, Danbatta said that the diligent implementation of NCC’s Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) which focused on the 8-Point Agenda has helped to lift broadband penetration from 6 per cent in 2015 to 42.02 per cent by July 2020. The sector’s contribution to GDP increased from 8.50 per cent in 2015 to 14.30 per cent in the second quarter of 2020. In financial terms, Danbatta said the Q2 2020 contribution translates to N2.272 trillion.
On capital importation, the EVC said in 2015, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the telecom sector stood at $1 billion but declined to $212 million by 2018. Noting however that through regulatory efforts, the FDI in the sector has picked up again reaching $930 million according to recent figures from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Danbatta also talked about the various consumer-centric initiatives his leadership has put in place to strengthen consumer protection and empowerment. These include the declaration of 2017 as the Year of the Consumer, the introduction of the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) 2442 Short Code, the introduction of the NCC toll-free Number 622 and the stringent provisions of Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) registration Guidelines and the issuance of direction on forceful subscription among others.
Such initiatives also include the constitution of a multi-sectoral committee on e-fraud, revision of the consumer complaints, and service level agreements (CC/SLA) for prompt resolution of consumer complaints by the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs).
He reiterated NCC’s commitment towards delivering on its mandate of ensuring the quality of service to the consumers, driving investment, and boosting healthy competition in the industry as enshrined in the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003.