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Nigeria’s 70% broadband target far from reach

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By Usman Oladimeji

Broadband penetration level stood at 43.53 percent in March 2024.

Findings have shown that Nigeria has failed to meet the promise made by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to reach a 50 percent Broadband penetration threshold by the end of 2023. Currently, the country has only achieved a penetration rate of 43.53 percent. In the beginning of last year, the NCC announced to the people of Nigeria that the nation was on track to achieve a broadband penetration rate of 50 percent by the conclusion of 2023. They also expressed optimism that Nigeria could even exceed the goal of 70 percent broadband penetration by 2025, as outlined in the Nigeria National Broadband Plan (NNBP) for the period 2020-2025.

NCC provided assurance by highlighting the telecommunications sector’s substantial contribution to the country’s GDP, rising to 16% in the second quarter of 2023. This growth was attributed to the telecoms regulator’s regulatory initiatives. However, these assurances seem out of touch with the truth considering the current level of broadband access and adoption. Despite NCC’s prediction of 50 percent broadband penetration by the end of 2023, Nigeria fell short and only achieved a penetration rate of 43.71 percent by December 2023.

Penetration level decreased to 40.85 percent in September.

Most recent data from the Nigerian Communications Commission reveals that Nigeria’s broadband penetration reached 43.53 percent in March 2024, falling short of the 70 percent target set for 2025. The country previously achieved a broadband penetration rate of 47.01 percent in June 2023, which remained unchanged in July 2023 before decreasing to 45.57 percent in August 2023. The penetration level further decreased to 40.85 percent in September of the same year.

Over the course of several months in late 2023 and early 2024, broadband penetration rates fluctuated. In October 2023, the penetration rate slightly increased to 41.01 percent, followed by further increases in November and December to reach 41.87 percent and 43.71 percent, respectively. However, in January 2024, the rate dropped to 42.53 percent before rising again to 43.08 percent in February 2024. March 2024 saw another increase compared to the previous month, bringing the penetration level to 43.53 percent.

Telecom sector needs genuine investors willing to commit.

There are worries among industry stakeholders about Nigeria’s ability to achieve 70 percent broadband penetration by December 2025, with the current level at 43.53 percent. While there has been a slight increase, achieving the target remains a challenge. In a statement addressing the worries of industry participants regarding the sluggish increase in broadband access, Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), warned that without enhanced Investment in the telecommunications industry, Nigeria may struggle to achieve 70 percent broadband penetration by 2025.

Adebayo warns that with 2025 approaching soon, the telecom sector needs genuine Investors willing to commit to its growth in order to reach the goal of 70 percent broadband penetration. Without these investors, the industry’s development will be hindered, he added. In order to quickly expand broadband access, it is essential to have widespread broadband availability, including increased use of fiber optic cables stretching from coastal areas in Nigeria to remote regions where there is a significant need for high-speed internet connectivity.

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He stated that Nigeria requires additional enhancements to its cell sites that were previously reliant on microwave technology, as well as increased connectivity through fiber-optic networks for homes. However, none of these developments are currently taking place, resulting in a detrimental effect on turnaround times. Adebayo warned that reaching the targeted 70 percent broadband penetration by 2025 set by the Nigeria National Broadband Plan initiative will be extremely difficult if the government does not tackle the existing challenges for industry operators.


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