Nigeria’s InfraCos plan ‘lifting broadband sector’

Nigeria’s InfraCos plan ‘lifting broadband sector’

Nigeria’s InfraCos plan ‘lifting broadband sector’

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Nigeria’s decision to license infrastructure companies popularly called InfraCos is boosting the country’s fixed-line broadband sector, according to a new international study.

This is coming just as the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it is putting finishing touches to the payment of subsidies to six licensed InfraCos that will build a national broadband network.

NCC says it has issued licences to six InfraCos including MainOne Limited for Lagos Zone; Raeana Nigeria Limited for South-South Zone; O’dua Infraco Resources Limited for South-West Zone; Fleek Networks Limited for North-West Zone; Brinks Integrated Solutions for North-East Zone and Zinox Technologies Limited for the South-East Zone, “while the remaining seventh licence for North Central Zone is being processed.”

Nigeria’s InfraCos plan ‘lifting broadband sector’

Meanwhile, Authors of Nigeria – Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband – Statistics and Analyses, a market study report by Wise Guy Research say that the country’s InfraCos plan is already yielding fruit in the fixed-line broadband sector.  


Also, Nigeria updated broadband penetration target for 2021 has also brought the country’s plan to foster ubiquitous high-speed Internet connection within radar. 

“The regulator has licensed a number of regional infrastructure companies (InfraCos) to build the national broadband network and offer capacity to all service providers on a non-discriminatory, open-access and price-regulated basis. This is helping to boost the country’s fixed-line broadband sector, which has seen considerable consolidation among players in recent years”, according to the authors.

Nigeria’s InfraCos plan ‘lifting broadband sector’
Funke Opeke, CEO, MainOne Limited

Also, Nigeria updated broadband penetration target for 2021 has also brought the country’s plan to foster ubiquitous high-speed Internet connection within radar. 

According to the report authors, “the government has updated its broadband ambitions, aiming to increase penetration from 30% by 2020 to 70% by 2021 though most connections will be via mobile networks. The sector is still dominated by GSM technology, though a greater reliance on LTE infrastructure is expected in coming years, supported by improved terrestrial fibre networks to provide backhaul for data services.”

Nigeria’s InfraCos plan ‘lifting broadband sector’
Leo Stan Ekeh, Chairman of Zinox Technologies Limited of Nigeria

Nigeria, which has one of the largest telecoms markets in Africa, supported by the second largest economy on the continent after South Africa, the report says “has recovered from a recent recession, with DGP growth of 1.9% in 2018. This has helped the telecom sector to attract foreign investment, particularly from China, while government infrastructure programs are also stimulating investment.”

NCC recently announced that has concluded process for the disbursement of subsidies to augment the capital expenditure of six InfraCos licensed by the telecoms regulator under its digital transformation agenda.

Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), NCC, dropped the hint at the weekend when he received a delegation from the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja, according to a statement made available to Technology Times by the telecoms regulator.

Mr. Thomas Hardy, Ag. Country Director of USTDA who led the team was received at the instance of the NCC Board members and senior management of the Commission, where Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye , Chairman, NCC Board. The latter wants USTDA to work with NCC towards addressing deployment challenges being faced by some InfraCos in the South-South geo-political zone due to the riverine, swampy nature of the region.

While providing updates on the Commission’s broadband infrastructure development project, especially the licensing of InfraCos each in the six geo-political zones and Lagos, which is carved as the seventh zone, the NCC EVC says the InfraCo scheme is a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement with a subsidy component that is being worked out for the licensees to fast-track deployment in their respective zones.

Nigeria’s InfraCos plan ‘lifting broadband sector’
Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye mni, JP, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)

“The licensees are expected to play some roles and NCC too is to play some roles to encourage broadband infrastructure deployment by the licensees. Currently, we have seen the licensees’ CAPEX, we have negotiated the CAPEX and we have arrived at percentage of subsidies based on the negotiation that we have had with them. However, the subsidy will be paid to them by the Commission upon attainment of reasonable milestones by the licensees in their zones of deployment,” Danbatta says.

Danbatta told the USTDA team that the idea of InfraCo is an auspicious initiative of the Commission, as it will see licensees deploy their infrastructure for a period spanning five years and providing wholesale services to other licensees to drive last-mile connectivity to people in the rural, under-served and unserved areas of the country.

“We are trying to build an intra-city and inter-city networks that will be able to connect citizens all over the country irrespective of where they are and what their circumstances are. To that extent, we have decided to provide access points in all the 774 local government areas in the country, trying to provide access to close to 190 million Nigerians, a lot of whom live in rural communities,” the telecoms regulatory chief says.

While NCC is adopting fixed and wireless broadband approaches to its broadband infrastructure development, he explains that the “InfraCo model is open to the use of combination of terrestrial, sub-terrestrial and aerial fibre optic deployment options and the use of television white space (TVWS) spectrum to provide connectivity in rural areas.”

USTDA’s Hardy commended the NCC for achieving and surpassing the country’s broadband penetration target of 30 per cent in 2018, saying that the US agency’s mission was to see areas where the agency can help to support the digital transformation goals of Nigeria, by working with the NCC and other organisations “to open up opportunity for greater trade, greater economic development and closer bilateral cooperation.”

According to him, “as a small foreign sister agency of US with a long-standing history in Nigeria, we support economic infrastructure projects; help in the telecoms, energy and transport sectors where countries have identified their priority development goals in the area of infrastructure development and through US companies, we develop an independent analysis of ways to meet your infrastructure goals.”

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