Broadband Development: Industry Structure Impedes Goals — Willsher

Broadband-Internet-Data-CapsThe Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher, has identified the current structure of the telecommunications industry in Nigeria as an impediment to the attainment of the country’s broadband penetration targets.

Nigeria’s mobile broadband penetration stands at 10.1 per cent, while the average for peer countries in Africa is 30 per cent. Peer countries have an average Smartphone penetration of 26 per cent, while Nigeria’s smartphone penetration averages 12 per cent.

In terms of mobile broadband affordability, measured by the percentage of average GDP per capita required for broadband access, the Internet Society estimates that Nigerians spend 9.8 per cent of their average GDP per capita to access broadband, while the average for peer countries is 4.3 per cent.

Willsher, who gave the keynote address at the 2015 Commonwealth Broadband Forum 2015 held in Abuja, said, “the inability of a majority of operators in the industry to achieve the scale necessary to support broadband deployment is, perhaps, the most critical challenge affecting broadband growth in Nigeria.”

According to him, “Broadband deployment involves considerable amounts of fixed cost and struggling operators, who are unable to attract the volume of reasonably priced, long-term funding required to deploy and operate broadband infrastructure profitably, are leaving a major broadband investment deficit. The resultant shortfall is underlined by Nigeria’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) investment as a percentage of GDP ratio of 2.6 per cent, while the average for peer countries is 5.5 per cent.”

He said that addressing the current challenges affecting broadband development in Nigeria would attract more investment with the resultant increase in broadband coverage and affordability.

He noted that despite these challenges, Etisalat Nigeria had invested considerable resources in ’rolling out fiber across the country and in its pervasive 3G coverage of Nigeria’. He promised that Etisalat would continue to invest in broadband development as it sees broadband not only as an alternative source of revenue but a critical economic enabler with the potential to help Nigeria meet its Millennium Development Goals.

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