Concerns over Nigeria’s slow broadband penetration drive

BroadbandTWO separate fora last weekend raised concerns on the need for government to fast track its plans towards deepening broadband usage in Nigeria.

Penetration is still at about 10 per cent in the country, amidst the over 19 terabytes bandwidth capacities brought in through the landing of submarine cables including MainOne, Glo 1, WACS among others with stakeholders believing that renewed focus by the present government can drive penetration that will ensure 30 per cent penetration by 2017.

The forums, which were the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) with the theme: “Internet Penetration: The Way Forward” and the quarterly seminar of Nigeria Information and Communications Technology Reporters’ Association (NITRA) with the theme: “Foreign Direct Investment- An Impetus To Achieving Ubiquitous Broadband Penetration”, all centred on the need to remove obstacles limiting the penetration.

The stakeholders frowned at what they described as snail speed development, stressing that the movement has been awkward in the country in the last few months.

Some of the major constraints highlighted by the stakeholders included the issue of multiple taxation; degradation of the naira and state’s government grant to link for fibre optic cables across the federation, among others.

They laid emphasis on state government’s grant to link fibre optic, which they say would generate more resources for each state thereby increasing the economy’s Gross Domestic Profit (GDP).

According to the Chief Executive Officer, Teledom Group and Chairman of the occasion, Emmanuel Ekwuem, there was need to strike a balance on naira devaluation in broadband penetration. “Our creativity and innovation should be put to work in the right direction. The content also needs to be scrutinized”, he stated.

Ekuwem said Nigeria must check the kind of content to be produced and how they are useful to the day-to-day activities of users. President, Association of Licenced Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) Gbenga Adebayo, who was represented by an official of the association, Gbolahan Awonuga, lamented that broadband penetration in the next two and half years would not be achieved based on the existing challenges bedeviling growth.

Without the removal of multiple taxation and improvement on the power sector, Nigeria cannot achieve 30 per cent broadband penetration”, he stated.

In his remarks, Association of Telecommunication Company in Nigeria (ATCON) President, Lanre Ajayi, condemned the slow rate of broadband penetration saying the industry is not happy with the situation. “Nigerians yearn for Internet.

Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Egypt has achieved 30 per cent. Why is Nigeria left behind?” Representative of MTN Nigeria, Salami Olusegun, a Senior Manager, described one of the major challenges of achieving ubiquitous broadband penetration as the refusal of state governments to grant access to lay fibre optic cable system across the country.

This he said if granted would increase internal revenue and promotes the country’s economy thereby increasing the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Salami, who called on government to encourage productive activities via introduction incentives and subsidies in order to increase the economy’s GDP, however, noted that massive rollout of LTE broadband technology, coupled with the increased rollout of smartphones at affordable rates, would further drive broadband penetration in the country beginning from 2017.

According to him, the actual journey of broadband penetration actually started in 2007, with the launch of the third generation technology called 3G, which he said put an end to the narrowband service being provided through the 2G networks.

He observed that Nigerians were beginning to see significant improvement in broadband penetration, but explained that when more service providers must have launched their LTE services, Nigerians would experience faster browsing speed and navigation, while on the Internet.

Salami however, stressed that smartphone, which would help drive the use of broadband Internet, must come cheap. “It is for this reason that MTN decided to come with low pricing smartphone that will enhance increased use of the Internet, through mobile devices.”

He however, called for an efficient and effective judicial system and crime fighting mechanism to assure foreign investors the safety of their investment, he said.

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