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NCC can’t be ready for 70% broadband penetration but Infracos, networks—Investor

Contrary to the lead submission of the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, that the Commission is ready to drive the process of attaining 70% broadband penetration in the next couple of years, a top official of one of the licensed Infrastructure Companies (Infracos), has chided the chief executive, saying NCC has nothing much to do in the process than telecoms networks and Infracos.
Prof Danbatta had while delivering a goodwill message at an investment summit of Kaduna State Government (KADINVEST 4.0), expressed optimism about the commitment of the agency toward taking the broadband penetration to the next level.
However, in a telephone interview on Sunday, a senior director in one of the Infracos who pleaded anonymity, expressed anger at what the Commission is feeding the public with as if the investments that will drive broadband penetration will be done by the NCC.
He said “With special reservations to the comments of the EVC at KADINVEST 4.0, the truth is that NCC has failed Infracos in creating the needed interface between us and states in areas of prevailing on states to give charges on Right of Way (RoW), a human face.”
“All networks and Infracos had expected NCC to spearhead our efforts in getting states’ governments align with current economic realities side-by-side with the advantages of salutary RoW fees, but the agency has not done that as supposed.
“Let me tell you, the exceptional efforts and penetration into the sub consciousness of state governments’ minds on the matter is only coming from the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), who are now engaging state governments one-on-one to track the problem.
“Yes, the Federal Government had kept faith with its tariff per square meter of N145 only, but it has not been able to convince states to follow suit and that is what the NCC should be doing than trying to inform Nigerians that it is driving broadband penetration.
“Recall that some of us had been querying how and where the NCC is getting all these jumping broadband penetration percentages when we that are in the field are decrying hostile ease of doing business in the delivery of infrastructures that will do the job of penetration.
Continuing, the official revealed that “As am talking to you now, ALTON is visiting every state government. They had been doing that even before the election season and I think credible results are trickling in. some states are beginning to understand what we are saying while some still need some time.”
“On the other hand, unless Prof Danbatta is taking the figures from mobile broadband to overrule fixed line and last mile which to me is deceptive because globally, whenever broadband penetration is mentioned, attention is quickly referred to optic fibre cable and delivery of fixed broadband.
“We all know that no serious economy that wishes to grow its digital space does that on mobile broadband. Serious governments in knowledge economy introduce policies that will encourage investments in data services and not otherwise.
“Rwanda is a good African example today and Ghana is coming up even faster than Nigeria.
As you can recall, Kogi State government is still creating confusion for some networks and the Federal Government including the NCC are not helping matters. MTN Nigeria will tell you what it passed through or is still passing through in the hands of Kogi State government. I think they are even in court now.
“I read that NCC at KADINVEST, urged Fleek Network Limited, the licensed Infraco for the North West to quickly mobilise to site with a view to deploying broadband infrastructure in the region. However, he failed to call on the region’s governors to be fair and humane to the Infraco in terms of taxes and RoW which would have been commendable.
“So, what am saying; is that it is not in the hands of NCC to drive broadband penetration, but networks and Infraco investments which are currently being frustrated by multiple taxation, high cost of RoW, vandalism and forex crisis.
However, continuing in his speech at KADINVEST, NCC chief executive recalled that “When I was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, broadband penetration was only 8.5 per cent. It has now risen to 33%, an equivalent of 63 million Nigerians enjoying the services. I am particularly thrilled y to see that the rising trend has not only been sustained, but the NCC is now ready to take it to the next level.”
NCC had on December churned out a figure, saying Nigeria attained its 30.9% broadband target in 2018 but was silent on the fact that it was only via mobile broadband which cannot be taken seriously after all.
Recall that about six Infracos had been licensed by the NCC to drive the deployment of broadband infrastructure across the nation’s geopolitical zones and Lagos State, which is a zone on its own due to the sheer size of its market. The license for the north central region remaining is currently being processed.
But a shocking issue is that none of the Infracos are making serious progress due to RoW high cost, vandalism and insecurity in many regions.