A telecommunications stakeholder, Mr. Tolu Akinluyi, has tasked the federal government and the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, to follow through on its plans to promote seamless interconnectivity and open access infrastructure sharing amongst operators.
To use IT as a catalyst for rapid growth of the economy, Akinluyi, who is the Communications, Media and Technology Executive for Accenture Nigeria, said the Nigerian government must create an enabling environment to foster sustainable growth and development of the IT sector.
In his analysis titled, “Summary of Key Challenges in the Nigerian ICT Industry”, Akinluyi said broadband has become the “oxygen” of the information age as it is crucial in enabling Nigerians access the internet, which is the largest repository of information and knowledge.
He explained that the ideal broadband supply chain comprises of international connectivity (via submarine cable links), a national backbone network, metropolitan access links and the local access network (the last mile) with the Nigerian government developing a broadband plan which is aimed at increasing penetration rate from about siz percent in 2012 to 30 percent by 2018.
He noted that in Nigeria, there are multiple submarine cables on the shores of the country which include the Glo-1, Main One, WACS and SAT3.
He, however, said all these cables are landed in Lagos and access to other points in the country is limited.
“It is necessary to extend the cable systems to other coastal regions of Nigeria in order to ensure resiliency and security. The Nigerian government therefore has a big role to play in helping to drive this agenda.
“The backbone links in Nigeria have mostly been developed by individual telecoms operators to suit their business and technical requirements (in many other mature markets these were developed by government owned incumbent operators and later unbundled to ensure open access).
“As a result, there is an abundance of connectivity on certain key routes, whilst many routes in the country still do not have connectivity. Furthermore, the networks owned by different operators are not interconnected and therefore not as resilient as possible. The Nigerian government/NCC must follow through on its plans to promote seamless interconnectivity and open access infrastructure sharing amongst operators.”
The communications expert opined that in Nigeria, the last mile is mostly based on wireless technology as a result of the low fixed line teledensity in the country and therefore most internet connectivity is done via wireless devices. Whilst this helps to provide quick connections, wireless connectivity faces interference and speed challenges which makes it less desirable that wired last mile connectivity.
According to him, “The broadband plan must therefore address the need to provide a mechanism to facilitate an increase in wired last mile connectivity.
“Regardless of the portion of broadband supply chain, the challenges faced by operators are common and numerous. These include regulatory challenges associated with getting civil works permits, high costs involved in getting these permits, vandalisation and theft of cables, lack of reliable power resulting in the use of generators which is very expensive.
“The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, NESREA, currently requires telecoms operators to submit impact assessments and get necessary approvals for the erection of telecoms base stations, in accordance with Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA, regulations.
“This process has added to the already lengthy process involved in deploying telecoms base stations. It is necessary to find ways to speed up the EIA approval process to ensure that telecoms operators can deploy additional base stations quickly, efficiently and economically.
“The government must take steps to remove the regulatory road blocks facing operators and continue to drive its broadband plan to ensure targets for broadband penetration can be achieved.’’
Akinluyi therefore noted that no practical example better underscores the power of technology innovation than Estonia.
“When Estonia regained its independence in 1991, less than half its population had a telephone line and it had very limited links to the outside work. 25 years later, it is a world leader in technology. It has created several technology start-ups, its software developers created the software behind Skype and it even developed a programme to teach five-year olds the basics of computer programming. Today technology industries account for 15 percent of Estonia’s GDP.”
He said the development of technology hubs such as the Information Technology Developers Entrepreneurship Accelerator, iDEA, must be encouraged.
“The government must encourage the industry to promote, build, incubate and partner in the development and realisation of IT innovation hubs. In-addition, government support is required in the roll-out of awareness campaigns on IT innovation coupled with the commitment towards funding some of these hubs to catalyse private sector funding,” he stated.

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