Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said an estimated N700 billion is needed to bridge the gap in access to telecommunication services in the country.
Gatekeepers News reports that the Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, Umar Danbatta said this on Monday when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee probing the commission over the alleged failure to provide mobile telecommunication networks in rural and unserved areas.
Danbatta noted that as of 2013, there were 207 clusters of access gaps with 37 million people.
Nevertheless, he said progress has been made in reducing the clusters in the rural, unserved, and underserved areas of the country.
Danbatta explained that the number of Nigerians in the clusters was reduced from 37 million to 31 million in 2019.
He said, “By 2019 we had succeeded in reducing the clusters of access gaps to 114 through the deployment of the necessary infrastructure needed to bring services to people living in rural, unserved and underserved areas of the country. This deployment of infrastructure is the base transceiver station.
“How did we achieve this? We achieved this by deploying a total of 79 base transceiver stations between 2009 to 2011.
“In 2013 to 2018, we deployed an additional 124 base transceiver stations. From 2019 to 2022 we deployed a total of 364 base transceiver stations. The total number of base transceiver stations we have deployed to date is 567 as we speak. This is a landmark.”
According to him, the clusters and population without access to telecommunication services have further reduced to 97 million and 27 million respectively.
Danbatta said, “It is not something that we can allow to continue. That is why in our presentation we have indicated additional things we have done to be able to bridge these gaps and giving an analysis of the amount of money that would be required to completely bridge the 97 clusters of access gaps in the country.
“Arising from the deterioration of the exchange rate of the naira to the dollar, we have a figure of approximately N700 billion.”
He added that the amount is required to “completely bridge the gaps” within the clusters.
Danbatta explained that a state of emergency should be declared to facilitate the bridging of “all these clusters of access gaps in this country”.
In April, the House of Representatives set up a committee to investigate the “inadequate” spread of telecommunication services.
The lawmakers queried the NCC over the “non-provision” of telecommunication networks to underserved areas despite the utilisation of the universal service provision fund (USPF).
The resolution followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by a lawmaker from Edo state, Sergius Ogun.