N3b subsidy for infraCos lying idle at NCC

Nigeria Communications Commission, NCC, have disclosed that Internet broadband infrastructure companies (InfraCos) have yet to access the N3billion subsidy appropriated for broadband infrastructure deployment.

However, the Commission reiterated it will not rest on its oars for speedy roll out of services by the InfraCos to ensure available, affordable and accessible broadband across the country.

To this end, the Commission said it is committed to ensure the InfraCo licensees visibly roll-out services latest by the end of first quarter next year (1Q2020).

NCC disclosed this during a panel discussion at the Social Media Week (#SMWLagos2019) in Lagos with the theme; “Enhancing Broadband Penetration in Nigeria: Initiatives, Development and Challenges”.

According to the panelists led by Head of Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Engr. Bako Wakil, the Commission has been working to ensure a visible roll-out is achieved in accordance with the mandate to deploy broadband across the regions.

Recall that the Commission attained a milestone with the licensing of six infracos in line with the recommendations of the National Broadband Plan.

Zinox Technology Ltd. was licensed for roll out of broadband infrastructure in the South-East region of the country and Brinks Integrated Solutions Ltd. for North East.

The Commission had earlier licensed MainOne Cable Company Ltd., which should provide services in Lagos Zone and IHS, which is to cover the North Central Zone including Abuja with expectation that there would be roll out in one year after issuance of the license.

The plan was an offshoot of the document presented by the Presidential Committee on Broadband.

However, the Industry Regulator identified issues on Right of Way (RoW) as major factors mitigation a visible roll-out since the infrastructure companies were licensed among other bottlenecks from States and Local Governments.

The Commission has mapped out strategic efforts and engagements with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum with the hope of finding collective solutions to the challenges.

“We are hopeful that by this time next year, we will be sharing the success stories of this infrastructure companies,” Engr Wakil said noting that the Commission had set up a committee to come up with another strategy plan after the successful implementation of the 2015-2018 National Broadband Plan.

Wakil added that “The country’s broadband penetration stood at 31 per cent as at November 2018, surpassing the 30 per cent target by the National Broad Band Plan, this success story can be built upon if there are common Right of Way (RoW) referendum across all states as proposed to state Governors by the Commission.

“For the country to record a greater height all hands must be fully put on desk toward on the broadband plan with more states giving consideration and positive outlook into achieving a roll-out without RoW itches.”

 “The Commission still sticks to its subsidy payment plan for this infrastructure companies. As you are aware, we have subsidy in the budget that has been approved by the National Assembly to the tune of N3billion for the InfraCos to access, the subsidy is well captured in the budget, and so far, no InfraCos has access the subsidy.

“Agreements were reached with the companies on subsidy percentage share to cushion cost of roll-out and this will be paid when they roll-out,” he further explained.

Director, Licencing and Authorisation at NCC, Ms. Funlola Akiode, the Director, Research and Development, NCC, Abigail Sholanke, and the Director, Public Affairs, Mr. Nnamdi Nwokike, were among the team of panelists from the Commission.

The discussants charged Nigerian youths to make good use of the social media and the internet toward actualizing access to information and an all-inclusive digital world.

“…without this internet facilities it will be impossible for you to have access to the internet and the social media, you should therefore strive to protect the infrastructure. Challenge your local government and do everything to prevent them anytime they want to seal up the facilities.,” Akiode said.