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Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta

Why Nigeria’s Transition To Digital Economy Is Slow—NCC


Ololade Omosan-Agie

The Nigerian Communications Commissions has said that it is faced with seven critical problems as it is planning the successful transition to a digital economy.

The Nigerian government wants to deliver on its 2030 aspirations of greater access to the digital economy as it hopes to achieve the objective of creating 100 million jobs in Nigeria and improve access to infrastructure.

But the regulator in its recently released ‘Strategic Management Plan’ which covers 2020-2024 said creating an enabling regulatory environment for the digital economy to grow has become challenging.

NCC said a lot of rural dwellers are suffering from network penetration despite successes recorded in broadband penetration.

According to the Commission, rural dwellers still rely on second generation (2G) mobile network technology.

Nigeria recorded 97.4 per cent broadband subscription which translates to 73.5 million, while broadband penetration, 38.5 per cent.

As the country plans to launch Nigeria’s 5G Mobile Networks (5G), the issue of regulating the sector amidst the emerging technology has become critical for the NCC.

Adding to the issue, 4G adoption in Nigeria was only 12.2 per cent of total connections in January 2020.

The NCC said, “Geographic penetration of the network is still limited. Even though increasing broadband penetration was achieved, it is still driven by mobile. Therefore, geographic penetration is skewed with concentration in urban areas in major cities, thus leaving out a large segment of the population in the rural areas.

“Rural penetration is still reliant on 2G technology; digital inclusion remains a major challenge.

“In the absence of a ubiquitous fixed-line network, modular phones (as opposed to smart phones) represent means of broadband access for those down the income pyramid.

“There are still infrastructure (and consequently Service Quality) limitations.

“Telecoms mobile network operators (MNOs) diversification – foray into other verticals e.g. financial services (emergence of Payment Service Banks) and implications for regulation.

“How to promote digital economy and digital industrialization,” adding to the list the issue of “Regulating in a 5G environment.”

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