By Etuka Sunday
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Infrastructural Companies (InfraCos) yesterday disclosed that plans are on to raise a sum of N265billion to develop broadband infrastructures across the country.
Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta who made the disclosure while playing host to the Ambassador of Sweden in Nigeria, Mr Carl Michael Grans, at the Commission’s Headquarters, Abuja said, the amount would be raised within the next four years.
Prof. Danbatta said, the NCC would raise N65 billion as counterpart funding subject to the approval of the Federal Executive Council, while the Infrastructural Companies would raise the balance of N200 billion.
He explained that the Public Private Partnership project falls under the State Accelerated Broadband Initiative which was designed to address infrastructural deficits in the telecommunications sector.
Describing the project as ambitious as it would cut across the states, the FCT and the 774 local government councils, Prof Danbatta noted that payment would be made to the infrastructure companies handling the projects upon attainment of milestones.
He said the project is not only expected to tranform the telecomunications industry, but engender socio-economic transformation of the country.
Prof Danbatta said “ We see the Infraco project as a much more ambitious broadband initiative of government, we have gone very far with it as PPP project based on the recommendation by International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and payment will be based on attainment of milestones depending on what a particular infrastructure company has done.
“If we can get this done successfully in the next four years, we would have succeeded in transforming the country in multiple ways, especially in managing energy, education, transportation and the environment and meeting some of the Sustainable Development Goals. And because broadband is so desirable, we hope to see the financial inclusion rate increase significantly as well as mobile money services and this would of course transform our society. “
Speaking on the adoption of 5G technology in Nigeria , Prof Danbatta said the current trial stage which is being pioneered by MTN Nigeria is becoming competitive as Glo Mobile has also indicated interest, asserting however that the technology cannot be deployed without commensurate infrastructure in place.
He said the NCC is working on the assignments of three Spectrums for the possible roll out of 5G infrastuctures, but added that a statement would be made available to the public on the success of the current trial before then.
According to Prof. Danbatta while the NCC is concerned about 5G coverage, Spectrum assignments, levels of power and levels of radiation, the security agencies are currently monitoring the trial stage of the technology because of its far reaching implications for the country.
He said there are genuine concerns about the safety and security of networks, challenges of cyber security, frauds, and other issues, asserting that Nigeria remains a huge market for 5G technology by its population and the volume of business transactions in the country.
The NCC boss told the Ambassador that NCC and other Agencies under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy would like to partner with the Swedish Government in the area of capacity building for its workers in that Sweden is rated as one of the seven most developed in the world in terms of broadband infrastructures.
Ambassador Grans in his remarks assured that Sweden would do all that is necessary to support the Nigerian government in terms of broadband infrastructures as it would help transform its economy, and promote trade and investments between the two countries.
He however expressed concern on the security of broadband infrastructures in the country especially the type needed in support of the deployment of 5G technology, saying that it was one of the issues of focus at a recent meeting in Germany by stakeholders in the industry.