Stakeholders seek infrastructure build out to connect the rural areas
Information and Communications Technology stakeholders have reemphasized need to bridge the digital divide between the connected and unconnected in our society.
They made this call at the 2019 Nigeria ICT Impact CEO Forum (NIICF) held at oriental hotel, Lagos.
The event themed: ‘Connecting The Unconnected’ was organized by ICT watch magazine.
Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) speaking at the event said that connecting the unconnected will be a mirage if we do not make conscious efforts to provide adequate infrastructure to reach the last mile.
Engr. Adebayo represented by Mr. Gbalaho Awonuga, executive secretary, Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) stated that there must be adequate infrastructure in place before we can connect the unconnected.
He noted that we can never get to the unconnected at the rural area without adequate provision of infrastructure that will ensure that they are connected.
He also called on government to address the issue of multiple taxation in sector, noting that it’s the bane in connecting the people in the rural area.
He revealed also that as an association, they are embarking on coursed based studies so as to harmonize these issues.
Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman/chief executive officer, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said that they are committed to Connecting the unconnected through its broad based initiatives.
Represented by Engr. Babagana Gigima, head, Special duty department, NCC added that providing connectivity to the unconnected, who are usually classified as un-served or under-served, comes with its own set of challenges especially in developing countries like ours where other complementary infrastructure such as power, transmission and transport are non-existing or inadequate.
Prof Danbatta noted with regrets the challenges faced by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) even inside city centers where they are forced to deploy two (2) power generating sets per Base Transceiver Station (BTS) to complement the erratic public power supply systems.
He explained that the commission has been fulfilling its obligation to ensure that unconnected areas are connected through the provision of services to un-served and under-served areas.
He added that their access gap study has identified 198 clusters of un-served areas, which translates to about 40 million unconnected Nigerians, stressing that with such population yet un-tapped, there is, therefore a business imperative to exploit this vast resource.
The EVC stated that they are committed to subsidizing the deployment of 318 BTSs in various un-served and under-served locations through the USPF funding.
He added that the licensing of the six (6) Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) will help to lower the cost of entry of MNOs and other service providers and ensure provision of at least one (1) fibre Point of Access (PoA) in every local government headquarters of the Federation.
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