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Investments in 4G drops 7 per cent as NCC assures of 5G deployment

By Adeyemi Adepetun, Lagos and Nkechi Oyendika-Ugoeze, Abuja
27 August 2021   |   3:40 am
Investments in Fourth Generation (4G) in Nigeria and Africa dropped by seven per cent in 2020, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has said.

Nigerian Communications Commission

•Commission seeks more spectrum frequency from NFMC, tasks states on Row

Investments in Fourth Generation (4G) in Nigeria and Africa dropped by seven per cent in 2020, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has said.

This is even as the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has again assured on the country’s readiness to deploy 5G technologies.

The drop in 4G technologies in Africa, according to ITU, was as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, which ravaged and still ravaging the world. It noted that the pandemic has further created huge gap in bridging the globe’s digital divide.

The ITU, in its latest report, tagged: “The Economic Impact of Broadband and Digitisation through the COVID-19 Pandemic,” noted that the decline was in spite of the rising need for more broadband connectivity.

ITU, which is the United Nations arm in charge of the global telecommunications, disclosed that the pandemic also drove 30 per cent increase in Internet traffic worldwide with changes in time of day and geographic distribution patterns.

“Telecommunication/ICT capital investment in developed countries accelerated (from 0.5 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2010 and 2019 to 1.8 per cent between 2019, and 2020 in member states of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to accommodate the increase in traffic, combined with the deployment of 5G and optical fibre infrastructure,” ITU stated in the report.

It added, however, that investments declined by 7.0 per cent between 2019 and 2020 in Latin America, 2.9 per cent in Asia and the Pacific, 3.4 per cent in the Arab States, and 7.0 per cent in Africa, thereby, indicating a widening of the digital divide.

ITU observed that the decline of capital expenditures (CAPEX) per capita in developing countries has resulted in a decreasing growth rate of 4G coverage and lagging deployment of 5G. It disclosed that 5G is currently reaching 3.34 per cent of the population in Latin America, and 0 per cent of the population in Africa.

But the NCC said Nigeria’s readiness for 5G is now very high. NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said this shortly after the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, revealed Federal Government’s position on the deployment of 5G networks in Nigeria.

Fielding questions from the newly posted Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Bitrus Bako Nabasu, on Wednesday, in Abuja, the NCC boss said the Commission, as a federal agency, has always aligned its position and plan with the Federal Government.

“On the 5G, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami has spoken about the Federal Government’s position to deploy as soon as possible. Our state of readiness is very high. There’s an auction committee for 5G with a deployment plan ready. As you know, without a plan you cannot have a successful deployment.

“All we are asking is additional spectrum to be allocated by the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC). Of course some of these spectrums are ready but we have to get the Federal Government’s approval to go ahead with the auctions,” he explained.

The EVC’s presentation touched on the enabling laws and mandates of the Commission, its structure as well his scorecards among others.

Intimating the new Permanent Secretary on the forthcoming book launch of the Commission scheduled to take place next month, the EVC noted that the book, which is technical in nature, will provide more insight into the workings of NCC under his watch.

“I have spoken about the first Strategic Vision Plan (SVP), comprising 8 agenda items. The SVP has come to the end and we have written a book providing documented progress we have made while implementing it. I am pleased to inform you that the book will be unveiled on 7th September, 2021,” he disclosed.

While commending Dr. Pantami for his efforts toward resolving some of the perennial challenges in the industry especially the Right of Way (RoW) charges, Danbatta urged governments at every level in Nigeria to respect the resolution of the National Economic Council on the harmonized RoW charges, to enable the industry to continue to grow and prosper.