The Nigeria Communication Commission, NCC has commenced a three-year network expansion programme to bridge the gap of over 40 million Nigerians out of communications network coverage, especially those in the rural areas using local content while remaining globally competitive.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta said this at a two-day workshop on Emerging Technologies Consultative and ICT Innovation Forum for North-West held in Kano State with the theme: “Developing Nigeria’s Tech Eco-system: Imperative for Improving Local Content.”
He said the initiative is being deployed to the 774 local government areas of the state to close the digital divide through licensed telecom infrastructure providers using mostly local content.
“We are addressing this deficit in two ways. One is to address the infrastructure deficit in the long term. In the short term, we need to deploy more transiver base stations.
“The 58,000 base stations currently available in the country cannot serve the estimated 190 million compared to Britain which has 68,000 base station to its 60 million population and still expanding,” Professor Danbatta stated.
According to him, the agency is emphasising on the use of telecom eco-system which has to do with local content to fast track the initiative.
”It it will drive wealth for the indigenous operators through employment, which will reduce social problems and revenue for the government through Taxes which will invariably be used for infrastructural development,” he said.
“At an average of 10 base transmitter stations per year, it is going to take this country 20 years to bridge the gaps and bring tele-communication services to people living in the rural areas.
”People living in the rural areas don’t have the patience to wait for 20 years. So, we are looking at rural technology solutions that can bridge the gap in three years. This is ongoing,” Professor Danbatta stressed.
He further stated that, “the ICT Innovation Forum has become necessary to promote local content with emphasis on the Tech ecosystem, identifying unmet needs and facilitate Public Private Partnership (PPP).
“It is imperative that the right framework are developed to enhance the ability of indigenous companies to maximally exploit local opportunities, as well as remain globally competitive.”
Professor Danbatta promised that the commission would encourage various tech hubs and start-ups across the country so they can flourish and achieve their set goals.
The lead paper presenter, Dr. Chris Uwaje solicited team work, appetite for continuous innovation, utilisation of underutilised ICT facilities especially broad band as well as training and re training of specialised people like women to man strategic areas of the initiative as done in India including Cyber security army to enhance the initiative among others.
One of the participants, the Chief Executive officer of KAD ICT HUB, Yusuf Bashir said the development is a good one and came at the right time.
“A lot of youths have been trained in various areas of ICT waiting to utilise the deployment of communication technology facilities,” he added.
The workshop which started on 14th will end on the 15th of August, 2019.