BY CHIBUZOR EMEJOR,
The national programme for Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) to increase broadband penetration in the country has been planned to kick off later this year.
Current broadband penetration in Nigeria is 22 percent, up from 4 per cent in 2012.
To achieve increased broadband penetration, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has developed a Licensing Framework and instituted a subsidy scheme to enable Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) to roll out fibre in all the zones of the country.
Specifically, the project, one of the key high-level interventions of the Nigeria Industrial Policy and Competiveness Advisory Council, is to increase broadband penetration across all geopolitical zones of the country, such that at the end of the four-year intervention, all the 774 Local Government Areas will be provided with fibre connectivity.
That implies the deployment of at least one fibre Point of Access (PoA), with the capacity of 10 Gbps, in each LGA across the country.
According to the Executive Secretary of the Council, Edirin Akemu, the difficulty of using a single Infraco to achieve the desired broadband penetration because of the sheer size of the country, topographic challenges and socio-economic factors necessitated the use of the more companies.
“To address those difficulties and fast track broadband penetration, the Nigerian Communications Commission, which is executing the project, has developed a structure to license six InfraCos for the geopolitical zones and an additional one for Lagos because of its peculiarities,” she explained.
The licensed Infracos are Infraco Nigeria Limited (for Lagos zone); Brinks Integrated Solution Limited (North-East); Fleet Networks Nigeria Limited (North-West) and Zinox Technologies Limited (South-East).
Others are Raeanna Technologies Limited (South-South) and O’odua Infraco Resource Limited.
Efforts are underway to licence an Infraco for the North-Central zone, following the withdrawal of the licensed Infraco.
In the presentation of the NCC at the last Council meeting, it has engaged the National Economic Council and the Nigerian Governors Forum on its broadband initiatives and has also reviewed the submission of the six licensed InfraCos relating to the Capital cost (Capex) for the project, subsidy requirement, and network design.
Following the review, they were requested to submit revised financials, network design and rollout plan based on, one PoA per LGA only for subsequent review.
At the end of the exercise, negotiation of percentage subsidy is to be considered for the respective zones.
According to Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, Vice Chairman of the Council, who is also the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, “Based on the speed of re-submission received from the respective InfraCos and the conclusion of the subsidy agreement, it is expected that the project will kick-off before the end of 2018.
He said the Commission also presented challenges such as difficulty of securing the Right of Way as well as multiple taxations in the states, which he assured that the National Council, headed by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, is helping to address.
In attendance at the meeting were Alhaji Aliko Dangote; a Vice Chairman of the Council, Chief Kola Jumodu; the new president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Mansur Ahmed; Dr. Latif Busari, Managing Director of the National Sugar Development Council; Lazarus Agbanzo, Chief Executive Officer of GE Nigeria; Mr. Louis Edozien, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Power; Abdulsamad Rabiu, Chairman of BUA Group; Dr. Kamarudeen Yusuf, Chairman KAM Industries; and representatives of Transmission Company of Nigeria and the Nigerian Communications Commission; among others.