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Nigeria: Why Impediments To Broadband Access Will Linger

Fact Sheet:
ITU/UNESCO report credits Nigeria with 20.95% broadband penetration
• Internet subscribers stand at 93.5 million as at August
• Targets 30% broadband penetration 2018

Isaiah Onwuanumba
Broadband delivery to the ‘Last Mile’ or last end user would remain elusive in Nigeria in spite of 10 terabytes internet bandwidth capacity provided by undersea cables of Glo 1, Main One and South Atlantic 3(SAT3).
Telecoms has been key driver adding over $60 billion investment to the economy in the past 16 years with over 153million lines and with tele-density of more than 109%. Internet subscribers stand at 93.5 million as at August.
There is absence of protection of terrestrial cable infrastructure by state authorities, willful damage to telecom cable infrastructure, vandalisation and high cost of procuring Right of Way(RoW) to install telecom cables and multiple taxation by several agencies of government constitute impediments to making internet capacity lying idle on our sea shores to end users.
As a result, it is cheaper to deliver a unit megabyte internet bandwidth from UK(United Kingdom) to Lagos than to deliver same amount from Lagos to Sokoto.
The challenges of ‘‘Last Mile’’ access will also remain with us for some time to come and it will continue to hinder access to Broadband services. ‘‘Until investors are able to take the services from their landing points in Lagos to different parts of the country where the services are needed, we will not utilize the available capacity.
Notwithstanding the size and number of fibre optic cables that have berth in our sea shores, there would be no true Broadband until the very man on the street is able to stream, watch video and do e-Commerce with his computer device.
The United Nations has set ‘ambitious’ new targets for broadband uptake around the world. It calls on all countries to put in place broadband strategies to ensure that 50 per cent of people living in the developing countries like Nigeria online and 60 per cent of people in the developed world online.
As a result Nigerian government recognised the importance of broadband and set up committee to effect internet penetration strategy. The former Minister was vigorous in that regard with national Broadband Plan of twenty 2013-2018.
Under past administration, the then Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson said ubiquitous internet capacity and a national backbone are critical to ICT infrastructure to deliver data traffic nationwide, cutting across power, transportation and water infrastructure, which are crucial for globally connected and increasingly knowledge-based world, nowadays.
Almost two years into this current government, Nigerians are yet to see measurable efforts for true broadband access.
Minister of Communications, Barr Adebayo Shittu has revealed that Federal Government is set to declare telecoms facilities across the country as critical national infrastructure to protect the $60 billion investment.
Report quoted the minister saying that finishing touches are being given to the move by the Ministry of Communications to declare the sector as national asset.
The minister further revealed that the declaration has become unavoidable considering the rising threat faced by the infrastructures’ nationwide and the huge contributions of the sector to the economy in the last 17 years of entry.
The minister said a memo for the declaration of telecommunications facilities as critical national infrastructure was ready to be presented to the Federal Executive Council before the end of March.
“The bottleneck has now been removed and the memo will soon be presented to the Federal Executive Council. In two weeks or three weeks, we will have approval of the Federal Executive Council and once it is approved, we will go on to the implementation stage.”
ITU/UNESCO report credits Nigeria with 20.95% broadband penetration at August. Nigeria targets 30% broadband penetration 2018.
Many Nigerians have died waiting for Government to deliver on its many promises include internet for everyone. We hope this generation would not wait for a life time to see internet delivered to their doorstep.

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*Broadband refers to band of telecommunications signal in which band of frequencies is available to transmit information. Broadband is evolving digital technologies that provide consumers a signal-switch facility offering integrated access to voice, high speed data service, video-on-demand services, and interactive delivery services. Broadband is the term that is commonly associated with high-speed data transfer connections. *Bandwidth or data transfer rate is the amount of data that can be carried from one point to another in a given time period (usually in second). It is expressed in bits (of data) per second (bps).

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