…North accounts for 79% of un-served areas
Going by the new National Broadband Plan (2020 to 2025), Nigeria would need a fresh investment of about $5 billion to be able to take Internet services to the underserved and un-served areas.The Guardian checks found that 79 per cent of the underserved and un-served communities reside in the northern part of the country.
Specifically, North West has 33 access gaps; North East equally has 33, and North-Central, 25. Further checks showed that South West has 10; South-South accounts for eight, while South East has five.
The people, who reside in the identified Northern and Southern regions are mostly involved in farming, fishing, marketing, cattle rearing, logging, among others.
The new broadband plan, whose committee was chaired by the Chief Executive Officer, MainOne Cables, Funke Opeke, recommended that for implementation, government and private sector must align and harmonise activities regarding spending and incentives to achieve optimal results.
According to the NBP, about $1.5 billion is needed for fibre backbone and metro; $1.2 billion for extensive 4G rollout, about $500 million for optional 5G in top 10 cities, and about $100 million for subsidy on local manufacturing of devices.
The plan explained that private sector funding should be mobilized and accelerated through the provision of incentives by the government to reduce the cost of deployment and on-going operational expenses.
It recommended that government spending through agencies such as NCC, USPF, NITDA, AND Galaxy Backbone should be harmonised to reduce overlaps and ensure optimal results from the implementation of the broadband plan.
Further analysis of the 100-page document showed that, while broadband penetration has increased in Nigeria with the deployment of 3G and 4G coverage, the results achieved in terms of end-user adoption has not matched expectations due to a variety of reasons, according to GSMA, including access to and affordability of smartphone devices, quality of service and speed, access to such services beyond major urban areas, access available via public institutions that is schools, hospitals and MDAs, limited availability of relevant content and E-government services online, among others.
The report explained that in 2013, Nigeria developed its first National Broadband plan to cover the five-year period through 2018. It noted that at the inception of the plan, Internet penetration and broadband services were enjoying a period of fast growth coming off the issuance of 3G licenses in 2007, and the landing of several submarine cables in Nigeria between 2010 and 2013 (MainOne, Glo1 and WACS).
The plan established the objective of achieving a five-fold increase in broadband penetration from the six per cent in 2012 with download speeds specified at a minimum of 1.5mbps.
“Current broadband penetration rates of 37.8 per cent indicate the objective was achieved as measured in terms of 3G and 4G connections divided by the total population. Mobile broadband connections account for approximately 99.8 per cent of the broadband base while fixed connections are at 0.2 per cent.
“Effective user rates for broadband penetration are less than the stated 37.8 per cent, which is impacted by factors including a large number of subscribers with multiple SIM cards. In terms of actual connected users, GSMA Intelligence data based on a Q4 2019 survey of a representative sample of the population, suggests that Nigeria’s unique mobile Internet penetration (3G and above) stands at 32 per cent or 65 million individual users against a total mobile Internet subscription base of 125 Million.