Telecom operators would invest $6 billion (about N900 billion) on deployment of more infrastructure from 2013, the Minister of Communication Technology, Omobola Johnson has revealed.
The minister said that this would include three billion dollars (N450 billion) syndicated loan facility that would be extended to major operators in the market, the biggest in the sub-Saharan African communications sector.
Speaking at the presentation of the ministerial scorecard at an ICT stakeholders’ forum in Lagos on Thursday, the minister said there were 27,000 base stations across the country and that a target of 60,000 base stations by 2018 was achievable.
According to the minister, the deployment of more infrastructure would ensure that all Nigerians had access to good quality telecom services and high Internet speed.
The minister also said that the investment would enable operators to deploy more base stations across the country to meet national target of a five-fold increase in broadband penetration by 2018.
Johnson decried the slow pace of growth, even as some existing base stations had been de-commissioned, due to terror attacks, theft and vandalism.
Said the minister: “The pace of growth has, however, slowed, even as some existing base stations have been decommissioned as a result of terror attacks, theft and vandalism.
“About 150 base stations were lost in 2012 due to bombings and flooding; twice as many dependent base stations are also affected.
“The number of base stations in Nigeria has increased exponentially since the inception of GSM providers from 116 in 2001 to about 26,500 by 2010,” she said.
Johnson also said that the ministry was committed to delivering on the promises of the Transformation Agenda.
According to her, the ministry was addressing the challenges in the ICT industry, and was leveraging the opportunities in ICT for socio-economic development.
She said that the five priorities of the ministry were to connect Nigeria, connect Nigerians, local content, ICT in government and to provide enabling environment.
Her words: “The Connect Nigeria programme will speed up the building out of communications infrastructure so that all Nigerians have access to good quality telecom services and high speed internet.
“The Connect Nigerians programme will ensure that Nigerians have affordable and reliable access to devices and have the capacity to use them so that all Nigerians can share in the benefits of ICTs.
“A local content initiative would lower the barriers to entry and increase the participation of Nigerian companies in the ICT sector to stimulate job creation in the industry.
“The ICT in government will increase the adoption of ICTs by government to achieve greater transparency, efficiency, and productivity in governance and citizen engagement.
“Lastly, the enabling environment will provide a predictable and stable environment that supports the development of the ICT sector,” she said.
Also speaking at the event, Henry Akpan, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, said that the ministry would work with relevant Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) to increase the adoption of ICT for the attainment of national development.
He said that there was the need to expand government’s use of ICTs to increase efficiency and effectiveness of governance.
ICT, according to him, would improve services in the agriculture, education, health and banking, just to mention a few.