Although current statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed that Nigeria has crossed the 100 per cent teledensity mark having nicked 106 per cent, a fresh information has, however, emerged that some 33.7 million people were still either unserved or underserved with telecommunications services in the country.
Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, made the disclosure yesterday in Lagos at the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF)-organised ‘Focused Industry Stakeholders’ Forum and Hackathon Award’ with the theme “Universal Access: Eliminating The Inclusion Barriers.”
The EVC said efforts were conscientiously being made to bridge the gap.According to him, the unserved population in Nigeria has been reduced from 36.8 million (24.5 per cent) in 2013 to 33.7 million (22.5 per cent) in 2015 based on the Access Gap study, using the 150 million population benchmark.“With effective partnerships, we can achieve more in the coming years,” Danbatta stressed.
To the NCC boss, the USPF will be playing significant role in achieving four of the eight-point agenda of the commission towards repositioning the telecommunications industry.
The EVC said the Fund, which is an arm of the NCC, would play significant role in facilitating broadband penetration, improving quality of service; promoting ICT innovations and investment opportunities as well as enhancing strategic collaborations and partnerships.
He stressed the fact that stakeholders must work together to iron out thorny issues bedevilling the growth of the sector. According to Danbatta, who said the nation’s parlous state of infrastructure had limited its development, however, noted that Nigeria ranked 134 of the 144 countries with readied infrastructure for growth, adding “therefore all hands must be on deck to improve on the state of our infrastructure if we must compete favourably well.”
The EVC appealed to the Federal Government to review its fiscal and monetary policies, especially as it relates to foreign exchange acquisition.
According to him, operators were finding it difficult to access foreign exchange for their operations.In his remark, USPF Secretary, Ayuba Shuaibu, said the initiative was borne out of the conviction to promote widespread availability of telecommunications services across the federation.
Also speaking, a former president of the Association of Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ATCON) and programme moderator, Titi Omo-Ettu, said the project aims to bring access to the last man.