Nigeria Needs over 120,000km Fibre Network to Boost Broadband

The Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta has said Nigeria needs over 120,000 kilometres of metropolitan fibre networks interconnected across the country, for it to achieve its goal of pervasive broadband penetration.

Danbatta who made the disclosure recently in Abuja, while receiving a delegation from the Nigeria Industrial Policy and Competiveness Advisory Council, led by Ms. Edirin Akemu, said that only 38,000 kilometres have been covered so far, a far cry from the expected 120,000 kilometres that will give full broadband coverage to the nooks and crannies of the country.

Danbatta therefore called on the federal government to ensure that all the 36 states governments of the federation adhere to the resolution of National Economic Council on the Right of Way (RoW) charges, which stipulate N145 per metre for laying fibre network in every part of the country.

“The Right of Way issue is something that refuses to go away despite the existence of a document guiding what should be charged. Currently nobody is complying with the provision of that document,” Danbatta said, while expressing his displeasure over the slow pace of broadband penetration in the country.

The National Broadband Policy (2013-2018) is targeting 30 per cent broadband penetration in the country by 2018, but it is not very clear whether the target would be met, given the current level of broadband penetration in the country, which was put at a paltry 26 per cent as at December 2017.

“We cannot compel the state governments to charge N145 per meter for fibre. The federal government can, however, meet with the governors and extract a commitment from them, to ensure that NCC’s provision is strictly adhered to,” he further noted.

The NCC boss also called for more Information and Communications Technology (ICT) capacity building in the country in order to fully take advantage of the digital transformation that is taking place in the world.

He argued that while Nigeria strives to build the needed ICT infrastructure, the efforts would be in vain if there is no critical mass of ICT adoption and use to drive the digital revolution.