The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has inaugurated an industry-wide committee to facilitate the deployment of broadband infrastructure under a project named, National Communications Backbone (NCB). This is in a bid to give verve to expansion of broadband services in Nigeria.
Christened the National Broadband Infrastructure Joint Committee (NBIJC), it is chaired by Dr. Augustine Nwaulune, NCC’s Director of Digital Economy. It has Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos), and Tower Companies (TowerCos) as members and is saddled with the responsibility of supporting the drive towards the realisation of the NCB targets, as outlined in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025.
This information was disclosed in a press statement released on November 6, 2022 and signed by Reuben Muoka, NCC’s Director, Public Affairs.
The inauguration was presided over by the Commission’s Director of Legal and Regulatory Services, Ms Josephine Amuwa, on behalf of the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Prof. Umar Danbatta. She said the emergence of the Committee was informed by the need to inject a broad-based industry approach to address challenges impeding the actualization of broadband targets.
Prof. Danbatta said the Committee is expected to drive the targets set by the NNBP, including deployment of 120,000 kilometres of fibre across the country; deepening of broadband penetration to 70 per cent by 2025; and connection of 60 per cent of Communication towers with fibre; among other targets as stipulated in its approved Terms of Reference (ToR).
The EVC said he appreciated the willingness and readiness of committee members to make a considerable investment of time and talent to participate in the task, adding that he appreciated that they will provide an invaluable perspective as the NCC seeks to address gaps impeding the actualisation of the National Communications Backbone and Nigerian National Broadband Plan initiatives.
Prof. Danbatta enthused that the depth and scope of experiences represented by the broad spectrum of the Committee’s membership will provide the Commission with much-needed insight and drive to overcome the challenges facing broadband infrastructure deployment in the country, and even exceed the set targets.
Following its inauguration, the Committee held its maiden meeting that discussed the frequency of meetings and other critical issues considered relevant to deliver on its ToR.
The Committee’s six-point ToR include: enhancing collaboration between Mobile Network Operators and Infrastructure Companies towards achieving target of the National Communications Backbone of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025; and to design an NCB network architecture and harmonized comprehensive plan that will create a more viable business case that will attract investors, establish synergy between the MNOs and the InfraCos, and facilitate infrastructure deployment.
The Committee, in collaboration with the Commission, is also expected to organize a National Communications Backbone financing workshop and invite all the major financial institutions, MNOs and InfraCos, and present the project estimated at N800 billion, for adoption and financing.
The Committee is also mandated to initiate engagements with identified sources of funding including Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria (InfraCorp), Africa Development Bank (AfDB), and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) among others.