The Nigeria Communications Commission NCC has said that the number of identified areas of clusters across Nigeria without access to the telecommunications services has been reduced by 53.1 per cent as at the end of 2022.
The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, disclosed this at a recent telecoms industry stakeholders forum in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
Danbatta, who was represented at the forum by the Head, Pre-Licensing at the Commission, Usman Mamman, said from 207 clusters of access gaps in 2013, the industry has witnessed a reduction to 97 as of end 2022 by bridging 110 clusters of access gaps, representing a 53.1 per cent reduction.
He said by implication, the number of Nigerians who fell within the access gap which were estimated at 37 million in 2013 has been reduced to 27 million, following increased access to telecoms services by those hitherto not digitally included.
Access gaps refer to the cluster of communities or grouped areas in different parts of the country that are bereft of access to telecom services and till date, the NCC has reduced clusters of access gap by more than half.
Danbatta said, “We have worked tirelessly to ensure we bring telecom services to people living in rural, unserved, and underserved areas of this country, totalling 37 million people courtesy of the consultancy that was conducted in 2013.
“By 2019, we had succeeded in reducing the clusters of access gaps to 114 through the 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 number of Nigerians again 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,” he said
Danbatta stated that in 2013 to 2018, the telecom sector also witnessed the 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 describing the reduction in access gap so far as a landmark, Danbatta, however, said the Commission will not rest on its oars as it thrives to ensure that the remaining 27 million Nigerians, who currently lack access to telecoms services, are provided with services.
Meanwhile, the EVC said part the regulatory interventions of the Commission to bridge the remaining 97 access across the country to provide ubiquitous connectivity in all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria are the issuance of the Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) Licences and the deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) networks, among others.