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33.7 million Nigerians can’t access telecoms services – NCC

By on April 27, 2016

About 33.7 million Nigerians are still being underserved and unserved, despite over $32bn investment in the telecommunications sector in the last 15 years.

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, told journalists in Lagos.

He spoke at a session of the Universal Service Provision Fund, which was  organised by the Focused Industry Stakeholders Forum and Hackathon Award, with the theme, ‘Universal Access: Eliminating the Inclusion Barriers’.

According to him, efforts are being channelled from different angles in the industry to bridge the gap. He said, “We are working hard to ensure that the number of underserved and unserved people is drastically reduced from 33.7 million.”

Based on the Access Gap study, and using 150 million population benchmark, Danbatta said, “The unserved population in Nigeria was reduced from 36.8 million (24.5 per cent) in 2013 to 33.7 million (22.5 per cent) in 2015.”

He added that with effective partnerships, the NCC could achieve more in the coming years.

Meanwhile, the NCC executive vice chairman said that Nigeria’s parlous state of infrastructure had limited its development, saying that the country ranked 134 out of 144 countries with readied infrastructure for growth.

“Therefore, all hands must be on deck to improve on the state of our infrastructure if we must compete favourably well,” he said.

Danbatta appealed to the Federal Government to review its fiscal and monetary policies, especially as it relates to foreign exchange acquisition.

He said that there was an urgent need to review the fiscal and monetary policies because operators were finding it difficult to have access to foreign exchange for their operations.

“I think government should revisit its position as regards the fiscal and monetary policies, especially around foreign exchange for telecoms operators,” he said.

The USPF Secretary, Ayuba  Shuaibu, said that USPF was established to promote widespread availability of telecommunications services across the country, stressing that the fund existed to enable operators to deploy services in areas considered not viable.

Presenting a paper entitled, ‘Universal Access: The inevitable bridge for inclusive development’, a member of the National Broadband Council, Jinmi Olanuiga, said that USPF existed in over 60 countries globally, “with  largest funds found in India, Brazil and Malaysia; while huge success is reported in Pakistan.”