THE Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta recently assured the international community that Nigeria is putting up plans to use strong online presence through appreciable internet connectivity, to bridge the digital gulf between Africa and the rest of the developed world. He also challenged potential investors to make substantial investment in the Nigerian broadband ecosystem and see what a return on investment such an attempt could yield.
Danbatta spoke during a panel discussion in Barcelona, Spain, on the topic: “Is closing the digital divide in Sub-Saharan Africa myth or reality?” He assured the International Community that the NCC’s eight-point agenda has been carefully packaged to cushion all aspects of investments, especially “as we move to the next frontier of ICT revolution broadband for internet connectivity.” The panel discussion was a part of the Regional summit for Sub-Saharan Africa at the just concluded, Mobile World congress, MWC, by GSM Association, in Barcelona, Spain.
Danbatta told the panel which was moderated by the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), Nigeria’s Shola Taylor, that the NCC has put in place the agenda to encourage investors. “Two of the prominent goals are related to deployment of infrastructure for broadband and efficient utilization of Spectrum to benefit all Nigerians in all the regions.” He told the audience which included Secretary General of African Telecommunications Union (ATU), Mr. Abdoukarim Soumaila, Deputy Minister, Telecoms and Postal Services for South Africa, Prof. (Ms) Nlengiwe Mkhize, Meg. Charles-Horn (Africa mobile Networks), Shiletsi Makhofane (Ericsson Sub-saharan Africa), Mr. Mortimer Hope, Director Africa for GSMA, Alan Marcus (World Economic Forum) and Nkateko Nyoka of Vodacom Group among others, that the NCC will keep faith with the National Broadband Plans and in line with this, the country now has seven zones and each zone will have one operator which will deploy broadband services to every part of that zone. So far, two infrastructure licences have been issued for Lagos and North Central Zones including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and the process for issuing licenses for the other five zones has begun. Danbatta assured that “the regulatory framework has been put in place to ensure a transparent licensing process because we really want to bridge the digital divide”.
“We want to bridge the digital divide by addressing infrastructure divide and we will be transparent and open about this, Danbatta further submitted. He believed that with over 107 percent teledensity for voice segment of telecommunications services already achieved, the country was in the right direction in creating new frontier of telecom business in broadband. Meanwhile, Chief Officer, Regulatory Affairs, Vodacom, Nkateko Nyoka said to bridge the digital divide, emphasis should be shifted from voice to data and “we need skills to run sustainable businesses”.