Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta is the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Office (EVC/CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has revealed that only 10 per cent of the 103 licensed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country have approached the commission for licence renewal. This leaves around 90 per cent of ISPs in Nigeria out of business.
The director of Licensing and Authorisation at the NCC, Ms Funlola Akiode, who spoke yesterday in Lagos at a Stakeholders’ Forum on ISPs, said that the Commission had witnessed a tremendous decline in the number of applications for ISP licences while renewal rates had dropped drastically.
“In the past five years, the Commission has licenced a total number of 103 ISPs nationwide but about 10 per cent has applied for renewal of the licence. That is of the reasons why we are here today, to find out if and why about 90 per cent of our ISPs are out of business and why some ISPs have not rolled out services in accordance with the conditions of their licences,” Ms. Akiode said.
Akiode added that, “The world is a global village and a necessary tool for this process is access to information of which the internet is a key element. Despite the fact that over 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population is active on mobile subscribers, the digital divide is still very wide especially as it regards rural dwellers.
According to her, as a responsive regulator, the sustainability of ISPs in the telecoms business is the primary interest of the Commission, adding however that the regulator is not unmindful of the difficult operating environment, the stifling competition from a variety of players, dearth of funding and so on.
Garba Dambatta, executive vice chairman of the NCC, who was represented by Sunday Dare, executive commissioner, Stakeholders Management, emphasised during the opening address that ISPs are integral part of the larger telecom industry which is riddled with numerous challenges.
He highlighted that issues of power, accessibility of forex, multiple taxation/regulation, infrastructure, vandalism as well as high costs and long delays in obtaining right of way and permits not only degrade the quality of services provided by the licencees, they also negatively affect critical the attainment of critical national objectives on the speedy roll-out of broadband networks to power socio-economic growth and the enhancement of the country’s contribution to national gross domestic product (GDP).
“The viability of ISPs is particularly challenged by factors such as the availability of cheap/ubiquitous mobile internet access, bandwidth costs, vertical integration of mobile network operators as well as the growing uptake of leased line services by operators among others. Also noteworthy is the question of availability/effectiveness of local internet exchange point.
“We believe the ISPs have a critical role to play in the attainment of national broadband growth objectives and must therefore not be left to die out,” he said.
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