…To build 1,000 sites within 12 months
By Naomi Uzor
The Nigerian telecoms industry is warming up to create no fewer than 10,000 jobs with the roll out of solar-enabled masts across the country. The country will receive the job creation boost with the materialisation of a $100 million loan from the Government of India.
The facility, arranged by the EXIM Bank of India, was the result of a close collaboration between the India High Commission in Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Communications. The deal was facilitated by the immediate-past minister, Alhaji Adebayo Shittu who had promised a 70 -per cent broadband penetration by 2021. The loan from India is expected to accelerate the deployment of solar-based mobile telephone sites in the country’s vast rural areas. Officials of the communication ministry privy to the details of the plan said no fewer than 1,000 sites can be built within 12 months once the two countries seal the agreement.
The credit facility from India is expected to be devoted to financing Nigeria’s Rural Broadband Network and deployment of robust masts that will rely on alternative power sources, especially solar power. The plan is hinged on government’s determination to extend telephone services to all rural communities at relatively affordable cost while ensuring that identified bottlenecks experienced in urban areas are minimised.
Earlier this year, Shittu had disclosed that government was desirous of fast-tracking the implementation of the National Broadband Roadmap by rapidly deploying less-expensive telecom masts in the rural and remote areas. The plan, he explained, would provide access to telephone services and rapidly increase broadband penetration in hitherto hard-to-reach regions of the country.
The latest statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, indicate that broadband subscription stood at 63.2 million while actual broadband penetration increased to 33.13 per cent in May, this year.