By Stanley Iwuoha
The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC says raising the $5 billion infrastructure fund for implementation of the new Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 remains may hamper the implementation of the plan.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta made this known on Tuesday at stakeholder consultatation with industry players on implementation of NNBP organized by the Commission in Abuja.
The EVC, who was represented at the event by the Chairman, Broadband Implementation Steering Committee (BISC) and Executive Commissioner, Technical Services in the Commission, Engr. Ubale Maska said though, the Commission has several options to source for the fund none had been identified capable of raising the needed fund to catalyze the implementation of the NNBP.
Stakeholders in the industry say Nigeria requires capital investment of about $3.5 – $5 billion to implement the new broadband plan.
This fund, according to them, will be sourced from the private sector while the government will provide the necessary incentives to ensure the success of the project.
The plan remains ambitious given the huge capital estimate requirements to achieve effective execution over the five-year period of 2020 – 2025.
With the funding challenge, the NCC boss said the Commission would remain focused in exploring available options to ensure the realization of the plan as scheduled.
‘‘We have several options, none identified yet, and we hope to raise something from government. Though, government hands are full. We don’t know whether that will happen.
‘‘There are many conflicting demands but an infrastructure fund CBN is floating is another potential source. USPF is also another option. Of course, we have a challenge, we may not get as much as we want. But that is why all the licensees are there sourcing for investment. We are hopeful of government special credit facility for Infracos.’’
Notwithstanding the funding challenge, he said a lot of improvements had been recorded in terms of Right of Way, removal of multiple taxation and signing of Executive Order for protection of telecom infrastructure.
He further said that plans were underway to unveil a uniform standard for laying of optic fibre for broadband. This he said would help the sector address the incessant cutting of fibre and disruption of services.
‘‘Modalities for laying fibre will soon be made public by the Commission. When you look around, you will see how some contractors are laying the fibre, when they encounter rock, they do not burry it deep into the soil and that exposes the fibre to vandalism, all these are violations. You don’t lay fibre on rock and you blame it on vandals.
‘‘We are working on standards of laying the cables that will guide the activities of those doing the construction work. We need it to guide against the frequent vandalism we are suffering already. The Committee is aware of the need for importation of critical equipment, value chain and other critical issues bothering on infrastructure deployment.’’
While charging captains of industry to be committed in their usual manner to the set goals of NNBP 2020-2025, Prof. Danbatta affirmed the readiness of the Commission to ensure the successful implementation of the NNBP 2020-2025.
Some stakeholders who spoke at the forum demanded for a holistic implementation of the new NNBP that would address all bottlenecks mitigating against the growth of the sector as raised by industry players.
They also called on the federal government to prevail on some state governors to fulfill their agreement on RoW and emphasized the need to bridge all identified gaps in the sector.