Lagos – A mobile network industry executive has called on government to address challenges affecting broadband development in Nigeria.
The appeal has been made to the Ministry of Communications Technology and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to achieve this by effecting policy and regulatory interventions.
Matthew Willsher, the Chief Executive Officer of Etisalat Nigeria, identified the current situation where most of the telecommunication sector revenues and profits go to one operator while others struggle to survive, as being largely responsible for the broadband investment deficit and resultant low broadband penetration in the country.
Willsher stated that the presence of several struggling operators, many of whom were barely active, in an industry the size of Nigeria’s, was indicative of serious underlying issues with value distribution across the industry.
‘This is highlighted by the concentration of 70 percent industry EBITDA and probably all of the industry’s net profit in one operator to the detriment of the rest of the industry,” he said.
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Nigeria, he observed, had underperformed in the area of broadband development in comparison to its peers.
“Nigeria’s mobile broadband penetration stands at 10,1 percent while the average for peer countries in Africa is 30 percent. Peer countries have an average smartphone penetration of 26 percent while Nigeria’s smartphone penetration averages 12 percent,” Willsher said.
He called for tailor-made regulations to enable unprofitable operators compete more favourably in order to attract a greater share of the currently lopsided value in the industry.
“It’s perfectly normal to have asymmetric regulation in a market where one operator holds the sort of market share and significant market power – and pertinent to ask is whether Nigeria can learn from the success of other markets in restricting dominant players in the interests of the industry and the country at large.”
He also identified inadequate spectrum to support broadband deployment as a key challenge in the provision of broadband services in Nigeria.
“Mobile broadband is clearly Nigeria’s best route towards achieving its broadband coverage objectives given the high cost associated with fixed broadband. The most valuable coverage spectrum is underutilized with the sub-optimal use of the 800MHz spectrum and the delays being experienced in the freeing up of the 700MHz spectrum.”
Willsher called on all stakeholders to take necessary action to ensure that Nigeria’s broadband was developed to its full potential.
This, he said, was imperative as studies show that broadband had the potential to drive GDP growth in excess of N400 billion between 2014 and 2018.
- CAJ News