Says broadband penetration to hit 50% by year-end
The telecommunications sector’s contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has increased significantly to 16 per cent in the second quarter of 2023, according to the data reported by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) based on the computation by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta, stated this in a keynote address delivered at the annual Telecom Executives and Regulators Forum (TERF) hosted by the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) in Lagos.
According to Professor Danbatta, from a 14.13 per cent contribution in the first quarter of 2023, and up from the hitherto 15 per cent all-time-high record contributed in the second quarter of 2022, the telecommunications sector added 16 per cent to the national GDP in the second quarter of 2023 to set a new record.
Speaking on the theme: “Success Factors and Barriers to National Broadband and Digital Economy Aspirations” the NCC Boss recounted the successes recorded so far in the telecom sector through the giant strides being made by the Commission.
From about 8 per cent contribution to GDP in 2015, when he came on board as the EVC of NCC, he said quarterly GDP has increased significantly to reach its current threshold of 16 per cent and that this has continued to positively impact all aspects of the economy.
“Through sustained regulatory excellence and operational efficiency by the Commission, the industry has grown in leaps and bounds over the past two decades and this has impacted on all other sectors of the economy. The effective regulatory regime emplaced by the NCC and with the support from all stakeholders has been our major success factor as an industry,” Danbatta said.
The EVC stated that while there are barriers to broadband deployment in the country, ranging from the issue of right of way (RoW), fibre cuts, high capital requirement for deployment, multiple taxations and regulations, among other challenges, the NCC has been navigating regulatory complexities, digital divide and literacy, security concerns with firmness and increased collaborations with necessary stakeholders such as ATCON to create measures towards tackling the challenges.
On the RoW challenges, the EVC said there are about 46 different taxes directed at the telecom sector at the moment. Such charges and levels, coming in various names, are imposed on telecom operators by some agencies and tiers of government, especially at the state and local levels, Professor Danbatta said the challenge translates into greater economic burdens on telecom subscribers in the country.
On the issue of connectivity, Danbatta said, “Over the years, NCC has identified some clusters of access gaps all over the country but and as well recorded a significant drop in the number of access gaps, as the commission continued to drive initiatives that boost access to telecommunications services.
He stated that the Commission does this by enlisting government commitment to a digital economy with robust policy frameworks, promotion of investment and funding, stimulation of infrastructure development, digital inclusion and literacy, promotion of competition and market liberalization, effective allocation of spectrum, as well as driving the e-government ecosystem.
Professor Danbatta said with various ongoing regulatory efforts, “The NCC is confident that we are going to reach 50 per cent broadband penetration threshold by the end of 2023 and by 2025, we would have met and possibly surpassed the 70 per cent broadband penetration target, as contained in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025.”
The EVC particularly commended ATCON and its members for being partners in progress and for constantly engaging the Commission in constructive ways towards finding solutions to the myriad of challenges confronting the industry. The EVC said a national broadband network and a thriving digital economy are not without their challenges.
Earlier in a remark, the Chairman of the Association Of Licensed Telecom Companies of Nigeria, Mr Gbenga Adebayo who spoke on behalf of telecom companies decried the lingering issues of multiple taxations by some states and called for introduction of a regime of National Charges, a situation where states with high taxes on telecom companies would be charged according to the cost of telecom services rendered.
Mr Adebayo also decried the” Japa”” syndrome in the ICT industry pointed out that the telecom sector is fast loosing young tarlents and suggested that companies should also seek the services of young people who have traveled abroad as covid has proved that distance is not a barrier to certain services / work.