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Nigeria has lowest telephone penetration in Africa - Minister
By Victor Iluyemi
August 28, 2012 18:46:52pm GMT
Omobola Johnson

Abuja (WorldStage Newsonline)-- Nigeria’s minister of Communication Technology, Omobola Johnson, the over 100 million telephone subscriber base notwithstanding, country has the lowest penetration in Africa with 60 per cent.

She also fingered the lack of infrastructure in the information technology sector for the low quality services experienced across the country, saying the government is setting up a fund for the development of the industry.

Mrs Johnson who took turn to brief President Goodluck Jonathan on the performance of her ministry in line with the 2012 budgetary, briefed State House Correspondents alongside the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publocity, Dr. Rueben Abati.

"At the inception, the telecoms sector dominated the ICT industry that is because of the success it recorded from 400,000 to over 1million phone lines; we see that it is an industry that is perceived to be very successful. However what we have demonstrated is that we are not yet where we need to be. In terms of penetration we are 60%, forget about 101million telephone lines, that is the number of subscribers, but when you look at the mobile penetration in Nigeria we are about 60% which is actually one of the lowest in Africa.

“So there is a lot of work to do. When you talk about quality of service, what is they reason of the poor quality of service? It is the first part that I mentioned, poor infrastructure.

"We don't have enough infrastructures in this country; let me give you an example of the UK versus Nigeria. The UK in terms of geographical landmass is one third of the size of Nigeria and the population is about 67-167million which is about one third of the size of Nigeria. Today UK has over 3million square kilometer of fibre across the country. They got up to 50-60 thousand base station, servicing 67 million people. So when up go to the UK and you don't experience drop calls and all of that and that their broad band is fast just think back to Nigeria, we have about 100 thousand square kilometer of fibre covering 1million square kilometer of the country. We have 20 thousand bse stations trying to serve all of us. So it is a case of demand and supply.

"The industry has grown very quickly and we are not building up that infrastructure as quickly as we need to and so what we need to do is to actually build that infrastructure and that is why we are working with the network operators to build the infrastructure. We need to have more base stations, we need to roll out more fibre optics and government role is to make the process as easy as possible for them."

Johnson who also spoke on the current interruptions experienced in the country however assured that government will concentrate on deploying ICT infrastructure that will improve on the service of broadband that will require at least over the 2 1/2Megabites per second.

“The second priority is around intrinsic development, using ICT as a means of improving education, health, Agriculture etc. Regardless of where you live, leveraging ICT to equip the delivery of these services in rural, urban and semi urban areas. It is also about job creation, we have an ICT sector that is one of the fastest growing in the world,” she said

“We need to increase the participation of Nigerians. It is about developing local skills, participate in the manufacture of the devices that is required for access and to develop the sector as well. E –government- delivering government services online using technology to increase the transparency and efficiency of the federal government and using it as a means to increase engagement between the government and her citizenry”

“We are also out to provide a sound regulatory policy by which the industry can thrive since the sector is in private hands.”

On the 2012 budget performance, she disclosed that of the N9.2 billion capital budget,  9.8 per cent was released and the ministry  had used 16.5 per cent of the amount.

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