Nigeria’s telecoms access gaps dip by 53 per cent

The number of identified clusters across the federation without access to telecommunications services has reduced by 53.1 per cent as at the end of 2022.

Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) and Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Communications Commission (NUC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, made the disclosure at a telecoms industry stakeholders’ forum in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

Represented by Head, Pre-Licensing, Usman Mamman, the EVC said from 207 clusters of access gaps in 2013, the industry has witnessed a dip to 97 as at the end of last year, bridging 110 clusters and representing a 53.1 per cent reduction.

He said by implication, the number of Nigerians, who fell within the access gaps, estimated at 37 million in 2013, has dipped to 27 million, following increased access to telecoms services by those hitherto not digitally included.

NCC, in a statement, yesterday, signed by its Director of Public Affairs, Reuben Muoka, referred to access gaps as the clusters of communities or grouped areas in different parts of the country that are bereft of access to telecoms services.

Danbatta said: “We have worked tirelessly to ensure we bring telecoms services to people living in rural, unserved and underserved areas of this country, totalling 37million people courtesy of the consultancy that was conducted in 2013.

“By2019, we had succeeded in reducing the clusters of access gaps to 114 through deployment of the necessary infrastructure needed to bring services to people living in rural, unserved and underserved areas of the country. The deployment of infrastructure is in terms of base transceiver stations, which resulted in the reduction of Nigerians in those clusters from 37 million to 31 million in 2019.

“By 2022, we have reduced the clusters of access gaps to 97 from 207 in 2013. The numbers have come down from 37 million in 2013 to 27 million as we speak. We achieved this by deploying, from 2009 to 2011, a total of 79 new base transceiver stations.”
The NCC boss stated that in 2013 to 2018, the telecoms sector also witnessed deployment of additional 124 base transceiver stations, while from 2019 to 2022, a total of 364 base transceiver stations were deployed.

“So far, the total number of base transceiver stations we have deployed to date between the time the access gaps were identified till the end of 2022 are 567,” he said

While lauding the feat, Danbatta, however, promised that the commission would not rest on its oars, as it strives to ensure that the remaining 27 million Nigerians, who currently lack access to telecoms services, are captured.

He said part of the regulatory interventions to bridge the remaining 97 access gaps nationwide was to provide ubiquitous connectivity in all nooks and crannies of the country via issuance of Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) licences and deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) networks, among others.