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Wednesday 7th December, 2022

BROADBAND

Broadband: NCC Inaugurates Committee To Accelerate Deployment

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has inaugurated an industry-wide committee to facilitate the deployment of broadband infrastructure under a project named, National Communications Backbone (NCB).

Chaired by NCC’s Director of Digital Economy, Dr. Augustine Nwaulune, with Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos), and Tower Companies (TowerCos) as members, the Committee, christened the National Broadband Infrastructure Joint Committee (NBIJC), is saddled with the responsibility of supporting the drive towards the realisation of the NCB targets, as outlined in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025.

Director of Legal and Regulatory Services at NCC, Josephine Amuwa, who presided over the inauguration on behalf of the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, in Abuja recently, said the emergence of the Committee was informed by the need to inject a broad-based industry approach to address challenges impeding the actualisation of broadband targets.

Danbatta said the Committee is expected to drive the targets set by the NNBP, including the deployment of 120,000 kilometers of fibre across the country; deepening of broadband penetration to 70 per cent by 2025; and connection of 60 per cent of Communication towers with fibre; among other targets, as stipulated in its approved Terms of Reference (ToR).

The EVC stated, “I appreciate your willingness and readiness to make a considerable investment of time and talent to participate in this Committee. We appreciate that you will provide an invaluable perspective as we seek to address gaps impeding the actualisation of the NCB and NNBP initiatives.”

“The depth and scope of experiences represented by the broad spectrum of this Committee’s membership will, no doubt, provide the Commission with much-needed insight and drive to overcome the challenges facing broadband infrastructure deployment in the country, and even exceed the current set targets.”

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Following its inauguration, the Committee held its maiden meeting that discussed the frequency of meetings and other critical issues considered relevant to deliver on its ToR.

The Committee’s six-point ToR includes: enhancing collaboration between MNOs and InfraCos towards achieving the target of the NCB of the NNBP 2020-2025; and designing an NCB network architecture and harmonized comprehensive plan that will create a more viable business case that will attract investors, establish synergy between the MNOs and the InfraCos, and facilitate infrastructure deployment.

The Committee, in collaboration with the Commission, is also expected to organize an NCB financing workshop and invite all the major financial institutions, MNOs and InfraCos, and present the project, estimated at N800 billion, for adoption and financing.

Equally, the Committee is mandated to initiate engagements with identified sources of funding including Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria (InfraCorp), Africa Development Bank (AfDB), and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) among others.

 

 

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BROADBAND

3.5GHz Spectrum Auction Will Democratize Broadband for Nigerians – Danbatta

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L-R: Managing Director/Chief Operating Officer, ThisDay Newspapers, Eniola Bello; President, African Public Relations Association, Yomi Badejo-Okusanya; Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Adeleke Adewolu and Chairman, STB-McCann, Steve Omojafor, during the annual conference of the Brand Journalists Association of Nigeria (BJAN) where the NCC received “The Regulator of the Decade Award” in Lagos at the weekend.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said the ongoing process to auction two additional lots in the 3.5GHz spectrum for Fifth Generation (5G) is part of efforts that will further democratise access to high-speed mobile broadband for all Nigerians.

The Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, stated this in Lagos over the weekend while speaking at the 10th Annual Brands and Marketing Conference of the Brand Journalists Association of Nigeria (BJAN) where the NCC was conferred with the “Regulator of the Decade” Award.

Represented by the Commission’s Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Adeleke Adewolu, the EVC noted that the ongoing process, for which arrangements are in top gear, followed the successful auctioning of two bands of the 3.5GHz spectrum in December of 2021.

Danbatta disclosed that the Commission is currently reviewing the licenses and frameworks for fixed broadband to update them in line with current challenges and make them more effective as part of the pivotal initiatives deployed by NCC that are already bearing fruits.

The EVC was emphatic that the Commission, in pursuit of its mandate, has been relentless in creating a conducive atmosphere for the rollout and adoption of new technologies, and the government has taken the firm position that the country must leverage digital technologies to grow the economy.

As such, he said the development of policies such as the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030 and the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025, which the NCC and other agencies and partners are assiduously implementing.

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Danbatta informed the participants at the conference that content creation and consumption have grown around the telecommunications infrastructure provided by technology, which Nigerian entertainers have leveraged to become global brands.

“Due to heavy leverage on digital platforms, the Nigerian entertainment industry has gone global. Nollywood is one of the biggest movie industries in the world. In fact, more movies are produced by Nollywood yearly in comparison to Hollywood.

“Nigerian music stars are in hot demand worldwide because of their popularity and brand recognition on social media. We should add that many of these global superstars emerging from Nigeria launched into stardom by leveraging Caller Tunes and other mobile content platforms to grow their brands and huge followers online,” the EVC stated.

Increasing the intensity of his submission, Danbatta declared that “Digital platforms are fostering different types of systemic change, creating new brands, eroding the value of some brands, whilst at the same time increasing the value of other brands. The innovation-transformation-disruption cycle has come to stay and will be exacerbated as technology continues to evolve.”

The EVC left the impressive audience with reasons to be hopeful when he said, “Let me assure you that the NCC will continue to aggressively drive the rollout and seamless operation of infrastructure to drive new digital technologies for the benefit of all sectors of our economy.

“It is our hope that Nigerian brands will continue to leverage on robust infrastructure to grow their value and ensure that our country derives maximum benefit from unfolding digital transformation efforts.”

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BROADBAND

22 Institutions, Others Set To Enjoy N16.7 Billion Broadband Access Projects

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L-R: Prof. Muhammed Abubakar, Managing Director, Galaxy Backbone; Prof. Adeolu Akande, Chairman, Board of Commissioners, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy; Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, NCC and Mr. Kashifu Abdullahi, Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency, at the launch of Information Technology infrastructure projects for small businesses and public presentation of a book by the Minister in Abuja on Thursday.

More than 22 institutions in the country, comprising 18 universities, and six polytechnics, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), drawn evenly from the six geopolitical zones in the country, have benefited from a Federal Government’s broadband infrastructure projects designed to accelerate the Nigeria Digital Economy efforts.

At the unveiling of the projects being driven by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), which held at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, who presided over the event, said the projects underscore the importance of broadband connectivity and access as central to the accomplishment of the targets of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030 for a digital Nigeria, and that the project is in line with the mandates of President Muhammadu Buhari on job creation and economic diversification.

Pantami, who was joined by the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Mohammed Bello at the event, disclosed that the key infrastructure being provided for the project comprises broadband infrastructure for tertiary institutions of learning; broadband infrastructure for MSME; distribution of 6,000 e-pad tablets, in addition to the provision of broadband connectivity to 20 markets as a pilot.

He said the interest in supporting the MSMEs is justified by their current contribution of more than half of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, and now constitute 96.7 per cent of entire businesses in the country, and therefore, “any effort to develop our economy without bringing such important sector into the equation will amount to efforts in futility.”

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At the event, which had in attendance the Chairman of the Board of the NCC, Prof. Adeolu Akande; the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta; the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed; and the Executive Secretary, National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Prof Idris Bugaje, a book authored by Pantami, titled “Skills Rather Than Just Degrees” with the foreword written by Brad Smith, President of Microsoft Corporation, was unveiled for the industry.

Pantami said the book is his intellectual contribution to bridging the skills gap to enable Nigerians to tap into the opportunities that exist in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and other sectors of the economy.

The book was reviewed by three different Vice Chancellors – Prof. Muhammad Abdulazeez of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi; Prof Owuanari Georgewill of the University of Port Harcourt; and Prof. Sagir Adamu Abbas of Bayero University Kano, who commended the efforts of the Minister in putting his thoughts and experience to paper. They recommended the book, which they commended highly.

In their comments, NCC’s Akande and Danbatta corroborated that the project will fast-track and enhance the ongoing efforts of the NCC to deepen connectivity towards achieving the targeted broadband penetration of 70 per cent by 2025.

NCC’s Chairman, Prof. Akande, assured of the commitment of the Commission in completing the projects, which will add the necessary fillip to achieving the major objectives spelt out in the NDEPS, 2020-2030.

The EVC of NCC, Prof. Danbatta, highlighted the Commission’s drive towards deepening broadband penetration in the country and the promotion of digital skills acquisition to improve service delivery in other sectors of the economy, including education, commerce, healthcare, agriculture, finance, transportation, governance, among others.

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The event attracted so many stakeholders especially from the academia, as well as technology enthusiasts, including prospective start-up companies, fintech organisations and other interested sectors whose activities are billed to be energized through the diligent implementation of the NDEPS and other extant policies guiding the digital economy agenda of the Nigerian government.

 

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BROADBAND

Broadband: MTN Nigeria, TD Africa Partner To Quicken National Rollout

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L-R: Senior Manager - Analytics and Market Development, MTN Nigeria, Abdul-Malik Ahmed; Coordinating Managing Director, Chioma Chimere; General Manager, Fixed Broadband, MTN Nigeria, Onyinye Ikeja-Emeka and Senior Manager - Broadband Regional Sales, MTN Nigeria, Musibau Olanrewaju at a Co-sponsored Forum for Electronics Distributors at Yudala Heights, Lagos, on Thursday, October 6, 2022.

ICT giant, MTN Nigeria Communications PLC and Sub-Saharan Africa’s leading distributor of technology, services, and lifestyle products, TD Africa have partnered to quicken the pace of broadband rollout in Nigeria.

Both partners co-sponsored an event where channel partners drawn from TD Africa’s extensive database, as well as other attendees, were given an opportunity to gain a comprehensive understanding of MTN’s fixed broadband propositions.

The session, which was held on Thursday, October 6, 2022, at Yudala Heights, Victoria Island, Lagos, is in line with MTN Nigeria’s dedication to creating shared values aimed at positively impacting Nigerian businesses through mutually beneficial partnerships targeted at accelerating broadband penetration in Nigeria.

Representatives of MTN Nigeria hosted a discussion on the propositions under the MTN Home broadband umbrella, whilst assuring the distributors of the various opportunities that are available to them as MTN partners.

Speaking at the event, General Manager, Fixed Broadband MTN Nigeria, Onyinye Ikenna-Emeka, said “As we all know, data is the new oil. Our key role as operators and players in the industry is to ensure that we are effectively positioned to assist the Federal Government to achieve the ambitious goal of 70% broadband penetration by 2025.

“The only way to efficiently achieve this objective is through continued collaboration among all the ecosystem players. For us at MTN, we believe very strongly in the fact that everyone deserves a modern connected life, and we are continuously finding ways to make the customer’s life brighter. This means our broadband services are second to none and there is value for not just our customers, but our partners as well.”

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Highlighting the enormous opportunities that ICT offers, Coordinating Managing Director (CMD), TD Africa, Chioma Chimere, said, “You look at today’s world where it appears things are not working as well as they should, but if you look deeply, you will find that embedded in all of those seeming low lights, there are lots of opportunities.

“And if you are lucky like we are privileged to be in the ICT sector, you would find that our own opportunities are even larger because we are in an industry that is evolving, moving up every day.”

The forum, hosted by TD Africa, was a platform for MTN Nigeria Communications PLC to outline the process of becoming a partner of the leading technology company, as part of efforts to drive broadband penetration in Nigeria and make home broadband more accessible to Nigerians.

In October 2019, the Federal Government inaugurated a committee to draft the 2020-2025 National Broadband Plan in a bid to strengthen efforts to diversify the Nigerian economy. The plan seeks to deliver a penetration rate of 70 per cent by 2025 with effective coverage available to at least 90 per cent of the population by 2025.

According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), broadband penetration stood at 44.5% in July 2022, a figure considered hopeful for achieving the national broadband target of 70% in 2025.

MTN Fixed Broadband services which also include solutions running on its recently launched 5G services are tailored to support the broadband plan of the government, which necessitated the recent 60 percent slash in the price of the company’s broadband routers.

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