Operators record marginal Q3 growth
National InfraCo project takes off by December
Although about 2.34 million lines were connected between August and September, the combined growth of the Mobile Network Operator (MNOs) for quarter three (Q3) has revealed a negative sign.
The quartet of MTN, Airtel, Globacom and 9Mobile, whose Q2 statistics showed a 9.04 per cent growth, however fell by -0.38 per cent in Q3.
Subscription statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), which put MTN’s growth at 21.93 per cent in Q2, the telecommunications saw a -3.50 per cent downward growth.Emerging Market Telecommunications Limited (EMTS), trading as 9Mobile, which saw a -3.11 per cent cut in its growth in Q2, continued with that trend in Q3, going down by -2.89 per cent.
Two other other operators, Airtel and Globacom however maintained positive growths in both quarters. Airtel, which had 2.40 per cent growth in Q2, grew by another 3.55 per cent in Q3. Globacom, which recorded 2.73 per cent growth in Q2, witnessed 1.87 per cent growth in the third quarter.
Telecoms expert, Kehinde Aluko attributed the negative growth to two things. First, the yet to be concluded sales of 9Mobile, stressing that investors are kind of worry about the delay of things around the telecommunications firm.
Secondly, on MTN, Aluko said: “MTN is currently battling for survival after the CBN and Attorney-General imposed $8.1 billion fine and tax related fundings. If you also check MTN’s performance on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, you will also discover that the shares went down several times within this period. So, all these can be attributed to the slow growth recorded in this period.”
Meanwhile, the national programme for Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) to increase broadband penetration in the country is to kick off later this year. Current broadband penetration in Nigeria is 22 percent, up from four per cent in 2012.
To achieve increased broadband penetration, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has developed a Licensing Framework and instituted a subsidy scheme to enable Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) to roll out fibre in all the zones of the country.
Specifically, the project, one of the key high-level interventions of the Nigeria Industrial Policy and Competiveness Advisory Council, is to increase broadband penetration across all geopolitical zones of the country, such that at the end of the four-year intervention, all the 774 Local Government Areas will be provided with fibre connectivity.
That implies the deployment of at least one fibre Point of Access (PoA), with the capacity of 10 Gbps, in each LGA across the country.
According to the Executive Secretary of the Council, Edirin Akemu, the difficulty of using a single Infraco to achieve the desired broadband penetration because of the sheer size of the country, topographic challenges and socio-economic factors necessitated the use of the more companies.
“To address those difficulties and fast track broadband penetration, the NCC, which is executing the project, has developed a structure to licence six InfraCos for the geopolitical zones and an additional one for Lagos because of its peculiarities,” she explained.
The licenced Infracos are Infraco Nigeria Limited (for Lagos zone); Brinks Integrated Solution Limited (North-East); Fleet Networks Nigeria Limited (North-West) and Zinox Technologies Limited (South-East).
Others are Raeanna Technologies Limited (South-South) and O’odua Infraco Resource Limited. Efforts are underway to licence an Infraco for the North-Central zone, following the withdrawal of the licenced Infraco.
In the presentation of the NCC at the last Council meeting, it has engaged the National Economic Council and the Nigerian Governors Forum on its broadband initiatives and has also reviewed the submission of the six licensed InfraCos relating to the Capital cost (Capex) for the project, subsidy requirement, and network design.
Following the review, they were requested to submit revised financials, network design and rollout plan based on, one PoA per LGA only for subsequent review.At the end of the exercise, negotiation of percentage subsidy is to be considered for the respective zones.
According to Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, Vice Chairman of the Council, who is also the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, “Based on the speed of re-submission received from the respective InfraCos and the conclusion of the subsidy agreement, it is expected that the project will kick-off before the end of 2018.
He said the Commission also presented challenges like difficulty of securing the Right of Way and multiple taxation in the states, which the National Council, headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, is helping to address.
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