According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the federal government has earned more than $847.8 million from the sale of Fifth Generation (5G) C-Band Spectrum. This was announced at a press conference in Kano by the Commission’s Executive Vice Chairman, Professor Umar Danbatta. The number of people who have signed up for 5G services in the country has also hit the 500,000 milestone. Since more businesses were permitted to enter the telecoms market in Nigeria in 2015, the sector’s investment profile has skyrocketed from $38 billion to $75 billion, and it’s still rising rapidly.
The NCC issued licences to three different operators to offer 5G services in Nigeria: MTN, Airtel, and Mafab Communications. The first company to launch 5G service was MTN in September of last year, and Airtel followed suit at the beginning of this year. There has been remarkable development in the telecommunications industry in Nigeria. The number of people with internet subscriptions has risen to 159.5 million from around 100 million in 2015. Additionally, the industry has grown from contributing 8% of GDP in 2015 to providing 16% of GDP to the economy in the second quarter of 2023.
Significant growth is recorded in the sector over the years.
Danbatta, the country’s broadband penetration increased dramatically from 6% in 2015 to 47.01% in July 2023, benefiting from a rise of over 89.73 million subscriptions across 3G, 4G, and 5G networks. He stated that the commission’s efforts to increase broadband adoption were paying off, with estimates for July 2023 sitting at 47.01%. The NCC has pledged to achieve nationwide broadband coverage of at least 50% by the end of 2023. This coincides with the government’s objective of having 70% of the population with access to high-speed internet by the year 2025 in Nigeria.
A teledensity increase of 115.70% from 107.87% in 2015 could be seen in active telephone subscribers, which went from less than 150.7 million to 218.9 million. In addition to the regulatory activities, he said that the introduction of the Spectrum Trading Guidelines, the re-farming and re-planning of some spectrum bands for productivity, the establishment of a working mechanism for the release of C-Band Spectrum by Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Limited, and the rollout of the Expanded Revenue Assurance Solution (ERAS) were also significant steps forward. All of these measures increase the revenues generated by the government from the industry and eliminate revenue leaks.
Many initiatives have been undertaken by the commission.
Speaking further, Danbata explained that the measures to advance the sector also include the licencing of Satellite Earth Stations, the provision of Operating Licence to SpaceX Satellite, and the supporting the landing of additional Submarine Cables, particularly the Google 2,000 km Equiano subsea internet cable installed in 2022. In addition, MTN was also listed on the Nigerian stock exchange, and mobile virtual network operators (also known as MVNO) were also licenced. The advent of a new unlicensed millimetre wave spectrum, as well as the control of the white space spectrum.
Moreover, the commission has also built professorial chairs in Nigerian institutions as part of the NCC commitment, and he has contributed more than 500 million naira to Research and Development (R&D) inside the telecoms industry. All this, he said, was done under his leadership as the head of the commission. According to Danbatta, other consumer-focused efforts undertaken by the commission include the establishment of Emergency Communications Centers (ECC) in over 30 states as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Relevant stakeholders to address the industry challenges.
On the other hand, he said that despite this, the industry was still faced with several obstacles, some of which were vandalism, obtaining an equitable Right of Way (RoW) from governmental parties, and different forms of taxation and regulation. The commission, he said, has established a framework to collaborate with relevant parties in order to address these issues and maintain the sector’s growth trajectory, which has been an indicator of the telecoms industry’s role as an enabler of socioeconomic development in the country.