The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says about 32 billion dollars has been invested in the nation’s telecommunications industry from Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and local investors.
The Executive Vice-Chairman of the commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta,disclosed this in Lagos at a forum organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON).
Danbatta, who gave a keynote address entitled: “State of the Industry, A Regulator’s Perspective”, recalled that before 2001, few people had access to telephone and the internet.
He said only about 500,000 lines were available for a population of 90 million people in Nigeria before the advent of Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM).
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration had in 2001 inaugurated GSM with the licensing of Econet and MTN.
Danbatta said internet connectivity was abysmal, while investors were reluctant to come to Nigeria.
“However, the Digital Mobile License auction of 2001 changed the story.
“Since then, over $32 billion has been invested in telecommunications industry, both from Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and local investors.
“With over 152 million active telephone lines and nearly 97 million connections to the internet, Nigeria now has 107 per cent teledensity.
“Growth of the sector is followed by massive job creation whereby several millions of Nigerians and expatriates have been gainfully employed directly and indirectly by the operators.
“Even companies and Value Added Service (VAS) providers, among others also employed.
“Indeed by the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) estimation, Nigeria telecommunications industry remained the fastest growing in the world for more than five years, so much that it is still investors’ preferred destination,” he said.
Danbatta noted that people also had access to the internet through their smart devices and banking had been made much easier because of telecommunications.
He added that people could now do banking transactions from their homes, offices and smart devices.
The NCC chief said: “Electronic commerce now boomed; as people can access to shop online from the comfort of their homes, offices and the smart devices.”
The executive vice-chairman noted that online shops like Konga, Deal Dey, Jumia, Yudala were more common place for those who wanted to shop from home.
“Jovago had been well known for hotel booking and general hospitality.
“The online shops, the banking sector among others are all powered by Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
“I want to state clearly that we have done very well considering where we are coming from, despite some bottlenecks that are recurrent.
“Although we are aware of the challenges associated with the networks, it is, however, still work in progress.
“We are also aware that the internet speed has been a major challenge; that is why we are determined to implement the National Broadband Plan (NBP) 2013 – 2018.
“The internet is expected to rise from its current 10 per cent to 30 per cent by the turn of 2018.
“A little over a year ago, the commission licensed two Infrastructure Companies (Infracos) for Lagos and North Central including Abuja.
“There are five more such licences for the South West, South South, South East, North West and North East.
“Once these licences come on stream, access to broadband will be available to many more people than we currently have,” he said.
The NCC boss said the licensing process for the 2.6 Gigahertz (GHz) had begun following the release of Information Memorandum (IM).
He added that the licensing process was expected to be concluded on May 16, adding that there are 14 slots available for grabs through an auction process.
Danbatta said the operator of 2.3GHz would soon begin to provide broadband services, towards increasing internet penetration in the country.
He assured that the commission would always “act responsibly, impartially, transparently and independently in the discharge of its statutory functions and for the common good of all Nigerians.”