Poltical Economist

The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) has said that Infrastructure Companies (Infracos) must roll out visibly in one year after issuance of the licence, or they have their licences withdrawn.

The Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, Umar Danbatta, said this on Monday at an interactive session in Lagos.

Mr Danbatta said that the commission attained a milestone with licensing of four infracos in line with the recommendations of the National Broadband.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NCC recently licensed Zinox Technology Ltd. for South-east and Brinks Integrated Solutions Ltd. for North-east.

It earlier licenced MainOne Cable Company Ltd., which should provide services in Lagos Zone and IHS, which is to cover the North-central zone including Abuja.

“These infracos must roll out visibly in one year after issuance of the licence, or the NCC withdraws the licences,’’ the executive vice-chairman said.

He said that the NCC had also introduced a subsidy for the infracos to be given to them on attainment of deployment milestones.

As regards mobile money payment system, Mr Danbatta identified security as a challenge to the system.

He said that networks in Nigeria were not as secure as they should be, adding that stakeholders were concerned about it.

Mr Danbatta said that inclusiveness was one of the strategies of the National Broadband Plan.

“There should be an arrangement that the rural populace has equitable access to telecom service. Discussions are ongoing to see how we can overcome the security issue in service penetration.

“Kenya had 60 per cent penetration; Ghana has 40 per cent, while Nigeria’s service penetration is nowhere near these figures.

“The reason for the low service penetration in the Nigerian model is because it is bank-driven, and one of the challenges is security,’’ the official said.

NAN reports that Nigeria developed a five-year strategy in 2013 to scale up the nation’s broadband growth by 30 per cent in 2018.

The plan was developed by the Presidential Committee on Broadband with representation from the various stakeholder groups.

The committee was co-chaired by former Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Ernest Ndukwe, and Zenith Bank Chairman, Jim Ovia.

The plan recommended licencing of infrastructure companies (Infracos) for the six geo-political zones in Nigeria and Lagos as a stand-alone zone (due to its huge population and revenue-generating potential) to build fiber infrastructure, among others.

It also recommended licensing of wholesale wireless operators and licensing of additional retail spectrum, and re-farming of existing spectrum to accelerate 4G services.

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