FG woos broadband investors with incentives, opts for open access model

FG

From WALTER UKAEGBU, Abuja

Despite attaining active telephony line connectivity of over 134 million and a teledensity of 96 per cent, the Federal Government yesterday said there was still much to do to achieve an all-inclusive penetration of telecommunications to every part of the country.

Communication Technology Minister, Dr. Omobola Johnson, told a large gathering of telecoms investors, friends of Nigeria and the global Information and Communication Technology community in Doha, Qatar, that the theme of ITU Telecom World 2014, “The Future in Focus,” resonates with the vision of the Nigerian government as it works to build a better and brighter future for its youthful population using ICT.

The Minister who spoke at the Nigerian sponsored Leaders Lunch at the Qatar National Convention Centre, venue of the ITU yearly event, told the audience that in the last three and a half years since the creation of her Ministry, the country has put in place key policies and initiatives that set the foundation for the widespread use of ICTs by government, businesses and citizens to further their progress.

Earlier in his welcome address, Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Eugene Juwah, said he was particularly excited that the audience made out time to be at the Leaders Lunch, which presents them opportunity to interact, update and share experiences.

According to Juwah, Nigeria will ruminate on its ICT potentials and opportunities as a nation, which may have influenced in one way or the other opinion leaders in the industry. The NCC boss said Nigeria, being the most populous nation in Africa with over 170 million people and having made giant strides in ICT development, will obviously have a lot happening in its industry. He said top on Nigeria’s desk today is broadband availability and usage, hence the theme at the conference, “Broadband Nigeria, Enabling Access, Transforming Communities.”

He said President Goodluck Jonathan has graciously approved an inclusive national implementation plan for effective nationwide pervasive broadband deployment. According to Juwah, from the regulatory perspective, NCC has entrenched the Open Access Model, which allows for inclusive, fair and transparent licensing processes as well as incentives for investors in the industry.

He said NCC has tested the Open Access Model and it is workable in Nigeria. “In February 2014, we successfully issued a wireless broadband licence for the 2.3 Gigerhertz frequency spectrum band. Regional fibre optics infrastructure deployment licence is currently being finalised for Lagos and the North Central region, including Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. After that, the other five regions will follow thereby creating huge investment opportunities for both current and new investors, and both small and big ones.”

He said although over 75 million people have access to the internet, they currently browse on the narrow band and with our current maturity on the voice segment, the data market remains untapped. Juwah told his audience including the outgoing Secretary General of the ITU, Dr. Hamadoun Toure, that a lot more potentials and opportunities exist in the financial sector where banks are yearning for broadband services to enable their indispensable data services requirements.

Source : SunOnline

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