By Samson Echenim
The Nigerian Communication Commission is currently preparing a licence for an infrastructure company (INFRACO) for the North-Central region, that will bring the total to seven INFRACOs so far licenced by regulator.
The commission had since 2016 issued six licences to INFRACOs across the geopolitical zone, with one of the companies, MainOne, wholly dedicated to Lagos State alone due to its commercial status.
Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman of NCC, who disclosed this at Nigeria Innovate Summit held in Lagos, did not give the name of new INFRACO.
The NCC boss said the commission was also partnering with necessary stakeholders across the three levels of government to collectively address all the challenges such as vandalism, multiple taxation and regulation, high cost of Right of Way (RoW), among others, which are impeding speedy infrastructure deployment across the country.
“No doubt, we have infrastructure gap/deficit and to bridge this gap, the commission has licensed six INFRACOs, one each in the six geo-political zones of the country with one specifically issued for Lagos zone because of its commercial centrality to the country. So far, six of the licences have been issued with the seventh one for the North-Central region being processed by the commission,” he said.
The NCC boss who was represented at the summit by Ephraim Nwokenneya, director, research & development, maintained that the licences would later be backed up with the disbursement of subsidies to each of the INFRACO licensees upon attainment of deployment milestone in their respective regions.
He said, “It is instructive to note that for innovation to thrive towards accelerating economic growth, robust telecoms/broadband infrastructure upon which ICT innovations will ride, is a necessity. It may, therefore, interest you to know that, through effective regulatory efforts, the NCC has been able to deepen connectivity in the country. As at June, 2019, Internet connections in the country have reached over 122 million, with over 63.5 million of this figure connected to broadband networks of 3G and 4G, which represents a 33.31 percent broadband penetration.
“The commission is, therefore, gratified that the foregoing regulatory interventions from infrastructure, investment and innovation standpoints, are already creating new businesses that are becoming a major source of foreign investments into Nigeria. What is needed going forward is for all to collaborate with the commission in deepening the frontier of its regulatory activities for a digital transformation that we all desire for accelerating Nigeria’s economic growth,” Dambatta said.
Earlier, while speaking on the relevance of the summit, which was organised by Emerging Media, Danbatta said the theme of the event, “Accelerating Nigeria’s Economic Growth through Innovation” was timely and could not have come at a better time when advancement in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is, on a daily basis, throwing up innovative technologies that organizations and businesses must leverage in order to remain relevant and be competitive in their sphere of operations.
“However, businesses will need to turn that illusion into reality if they want to meet rising expectations. The coming era will be characterized by massive pressure as customers, employees and society make their demands known. But it will also provide tremendous opportunities for those companies that can deliver the appropriate experience at just the right time leveraging technology innovations,” he noted.