Nigeria’s telecommunications industry, regulated by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), is one of the sectors whose performance lifted the country out of recession in the fourth quarter of 2020, contributing 12.45 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
According to the latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), telecommunications & Information Services under Information and Communication grew by 17.64 per cent in Q4 2020 from 17.36 per cent in Q3 2020 and 10.26 per cent in Q4 2019.
In the latest NBS report, agriculture, industries, and services sector, under which telecommunications is categorised, contributed 26.95 per cent, 18.77 per cent, and 54.28 per cent respectively. This is a pointer to the fact that telecommunications, trade, services and crop production are the main drivers of Nigeria’s exit from recession.
In specific terms, NBS report showed that largest sub-sectors in Q4 2020 are crop production at 3.68 per cent, crude petroleum and natural gas at 8.2 percent, trade at 14.9 per cent, telecommunications & information services at 12.45 per cent, and real estate at 5.7 per cent, the report says.The telecommunications sector has, in the last five years been a major driver of the digital economy agenda of the Federal Government, as it has continued to provide the needed digital sinews that support the economy, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant restriction period.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, government institutions, businesses and individuals have relied heavily on telecoms services to carry out their daily operations and official routines. In response to the increased demand, the Commission put a number of regulatory measures in place to ensure seamless access by Nigerians to telecommunication services and protect against any adverse impact on the quality of service enjoyed by consumers.
The steady growth of the telecoms sector over the years with its pervasive positive impact on all other sectors of the economy in terms of increased automation of processes and digital transformation in service delivery has been remarkable. The growth trend since 2015 has reawakened hope that the economic diversification dreams of the country may finally be a reality as the sector continues to energize significant economic activities in the services sector of the economy.
Through effective regulatory regime emplaced by the Commission, under the leadership of its Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, telecoms investment grew from about $38 billion in 2015 to over $70 billion currently.
Also, broadband penetration increased from 6 per cent in 2015 to 45.02 per cent at December, 2020, indicating that 85.9 million Nigerians are now connected on 3G and 4G networks which provide enhanced high-speed Internet that has continued to boost efficiency and increase productivity across the economic spectrum.
Recent statistics also indicate that between 2015 and December, 2020, active voice subscriptions have increased from 151 million to 204.6 million, with teledensity standing at 107.18 per cent. Basic active internet subscriptions grew from 90 million to 154.3 million during the period.
The Commission is committed to its culture of quality regulation of the telecommunications industry that ensures a stable and robust sector which drives the digital economy agenda of the Federal Government and ultimately leads in the growth of the country’s GDP.
Galaxy Backbone Needs N35bn To Provide 2Mbps For MDA’s – Abubakar
Galaxy Backbone Limited (GBB), has said it needs N35 billion funding to provide connectivity services at a minimum broadband speed of 2 megabits per second (2Mbps) to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The managing-director/CEO of GBB, Prof Muhammad Bello Abubakar, disclosed this while receiving the National Assembly’s joint committees on ICT and Cybersecurity on oversight visit to ‘GBB National Shared Services Centre’ yesterday in Abuja.
Abubakar said that he needs the assistance of the National Assembly so that the agency can operate without bureaucracy, adding that he wants the National Assembly to make laws that will enable the agency to compete with other business outfits that provide similar services.
According to him, “To provide connectivity services at a minimum broadband speed of 2Mbps to all MDAs nationwide as mandated, funding in excess of N35 billion will be required, while more than N200 billion will be required for broadband connectivity at National Broadband Plan (NBP) recommended speed.”
“Despite the state-of-the-art infrastructure, Galaxy is finding it increasingly difficult to compete with private sector because of bureaucracy.”
“Despite 40 per cent increase in Annual Service Contract, the provision fails to match steep rise in demand for Galaxy’s services. Additional increase will be required to keep up with MDAs’ demands and needs.
FG, UK, Greenfields Law To Host Confab On Digital Inclusion in Nigeria
The UK Government’s Prosperity Fund’s Digital Access Programme and Greenfields Law is collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to host a: ‘Technical Conference on Bridging the Digital divide for Underserved or Unserved Communities and Persons Living with Disabilities in a COVID-19 Context in Nigeria.
The virtual conference which is scheduled to hold on 11 March 2021 will feature a presentation to the stakeholders of findings and recommendations from the diagnostic study on the impact of the Digital Divide on underserved or unserved communities and persons living with disabilities during the persisting Covid-19 pandemic, which was commissioned under the UK Government Prosperity Fund’s Digital Access Programme and undertaken by Greenfields Law.
The Honorable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, The British Deputy High Commissioner, state governors, local government officials and chief executive officers of telecommunications companies, civil society organizations and consumers are among the stakeholders expected to participate at the technical conference.
According to Osondu C. Nwokoro, the managing counsel of Greenfields Law and a leading telecommunications policy, law and regulation practitioner, “the study was guided by extant national and international constitutional, legal, policy and regulatory provisions.
Valuable information was garnered from women and girls, unemployed youth, persons living with disabilities in urban, peri-urban and rural areas from all the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria, civil society organizations, telecommunications service providers, the regulators and policy making agencies of government at various levels.”
From this process, Nwokoro said, the information gathered was utilized to develop pragmatic Nigeria-specific solutions towards bridging the digital gap between the underserved/unserved communities and PLWDs and other vulnerable segments of the society and to facilitate their digital inclusion during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic which has significantly irreversibly altered the usual mode of socio-economic engagements.
The overarching essence of the study, he also said, was to aid the attainment of the aspirations of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, 2019 and the National Broadband Plan, 2020-2025. Nwokoro also thanked the UK Government for continuing to play a key role in supporting Nigeria’s digital sector and inclusive economic growth and sustainability.
ITU Bemoans High Internet Costs In Developing Countries
A new policy brief from ITU and the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), finds that high costs for Internet access relative to income remain one of the main barriers to the use of information and communication technology (ICT) services worldwide.
Taking income differences into account, a mobile broadband subscription with at least 1.5 gigabytes (GB) of data costs around four times more in developing countries than in developed ones.
“The affordability of ICT services 2020″ analyses five categories, namely mobile broadband, fixed broadband, mobile data and voice low-usage, mobile data and voice high-usage, and mobile cellular low usage. Service prices in all five categories continued a slow but steady decline over the past year.
Developing countries were the main drivers of this global price decline. However, a pronounced affordability gap remains between developed and developing countries. While 4G networks cover areas with about 85 per cent of the world’s population, nearly half of those people were still offline in 2020.
“The declining price trend for mobile and fixed broadband is encouraging, but we need to strengthen our efforts to lower the prices in developing countries,” said Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General. “While the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred the digital transformation, we need to connect all people to schooling, work, health, business and government services. We build up the infrastructure for a better future, not only for challenging times.”
According to the UN Broadband Commission on Sustainable Development‘s Target 2 for 2025, entry-level broadband service in developing countries should not cost more than 2 per cent of monthly Gross National Income (GNI) per capita. The global median price for entry-level mobile-broadband services in 2020 fell within that target, at 1.7 per cent. However, the median price for entry-level fixed-broadband (i.e. at least 5 GB) services was considerably above the target, at 2.9 per cent of GNI per capita.
Broadband in developing countries had a median price of 2.5 per cent of GNI per capita, compared with only 0.6 per cent in developed countries, the brief shows. Over the past year, the number of economies that met the 2 per cent affordability target increased by six: out of the 190 economies covered in the report, 106 have achieved the target, while 84 economies have prices above the target.
Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, said: “ICT services in the majority of least developed countries (LDCs) remain prohibitively expensive, even for entry-level users.”
Despite the median price decline in the past year, the mobile broadband data-only basket was unaffordable in 39 out of 43 LDCs, while the fixed-broadband basket was unaffordable in 32 out of the 33 LDCs for which data are available.
For a fixed-broadband service, the median price in developed countries stood at 1.2 per cent of monthly GNI per capita, while in developing countries the median price was much higher, at 4.7 per cent. Out of the 178 economies for which these data were collected, the price was below 2 per cent in 67 economies and above this threshold in the other 111.
“This data makes clear that we need to rapidly accelerate progress to remove cost barriers to Internet services,” said Sonia Jorge, Executive Director at A4AI. “The pandemic not only underlines the critical importance of Internet access in today’s world but has laid bare the scale of digital inequality that remains. We need ambitious, coordinated action to make affordable, meaningful connectivity available to everyone, with efforts targeted at those least likely to be online, including poor and rural populations, women, and people living in the least developed countries. As the world becomes increasingly digital, the need to expand connectivity to everyone becomes ever more urgent.”
Fixed-broadband services, the most expensive category studied, saw the least change in the past year. This apparent price stability, however, does not reflect recent, and varying, quality improvements. In developed economies, the median speed of entry-level connections increased from 30 to 40 megabits per second (Mbit/s) last year. In developing countries, it only increased from 3 to 5 Mbit/s.
Africa witnessed the biggest price decreases in all five categories in relative terms, although its median prices remain well above world prices. In general, regional disparities are less pronounced than the gap between economies with different income levels.
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