This assurance was given at a media parley with the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta in Lagos.
The InfraCo Licenses which are based on NCC’s Open Access Model in line with the National Broadband Plan (NBP) has so far covered the North East, South-East, North-Central and Lagos geo-political zones, with licenses for the South-South, South-West and North-West Zones being processed.
According to Prof. Danbatta, the Infrastructure licensing and other measures put in place, including Spectrum auctioning and re-farming of some existing Spectrum to make them more productive, are geared at attaining the recommendations of the NBP, and possibly surpassing it before the end of 2018.
He cited the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) report that indicated a 22 percent broadband penetration in Nigeria at the end of 2017 as a testimonial to the industry drive towards achieving the NBP goal. “The Commission is working assiduously to accomplish the 30 national percent for 2018 as envisaged in the National Broadband Plan.”
NCC had in 2014, set up mechanism to license InfraCos that will provide broadband infrastructure across the six geopolitical zones and promised them incentives that will facilitate their rollout plans and minimise the cost implication. In January 2015, the Commission, as part of its bid to grow infrastructure, awarded InfraCo licenses to MainOne and IHS for Lagos and North Central geo-political zones respectively. This signified an opportunity to deepen infrastructure investments in Nigeria and to assure that the Broadband future which is critical to the growth of the economy is achieved.
In February this year, the NCC further approved the license applications of Zinox Technologies Limited and Brink Integrated Solutions Limited, bringing the total number of InfraCos to four, out of the proposed seven licences.
Explaining the Commission’s commitment to ensuring broadband penetration to the hinterlands through the infrastructure companies, the NCC EVC noted that the N2.5 million reduced license fee was deliberate because it didn’t want to burden the licensees with financial burden. He also noted that the Commission will provide subsidy based on milestone attainment. He said the NCC will set up milestones, assess the level of deployment by the infrastructure companies and grant subsidies based on the milestones. Professor Danbatta, however warned that the Commission reserves the right to withdraw licenses that are not productive.
Also as part of the initiative to achieve the targeted 30 percent broadband penetration stipulated in the NBP, NCC, as the driver of this process, has so far licenced a number of companies to stimulate broadband penetration. These include Bitflux Communications Limited (Bitflux) for 2.3 Ghz and MTN Nigeria for the 2.6 Ghz licences. Other licences are in the pipeline in this process.
While pointing out that facilitation of Broadband penetration in the country is the priority and pivotal to the attainment of the Commission’s 8-Point Agenda, as laid out at the inception of the administration, Prof. Danbatta noted that the commitment to “achieve the three ‘A’s of Availability, Accessibility and Affordability is hinged on broadband deployment across the country”.
The EVC noted that telecommunications have made significant impacts in transforming the Nigerian economy, contributing 10 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually in the past four years.
He also observed that the sector can now boast of investment of well over US$70 billion as at September 2017, as against US$50 million in 2001.
He further pledged that the Commission will continue to grow the industry to the benefit of consumers and the nation’s economy.