Despite having a current active subscriber base of 117 million, 40% of the rural populace is still disenfranchised from being part of the telecoms revolution because they have no network coverage, Communications Technology Minister, Omobola Johnson, said in Lagos.
The minister, who spoke at an ICT Stakeholders Forum on ‘Connected for Growth-Moving from Planning to Execution’, lamented that while the number of global system for mobile (GSM) subscribers continues to witness phenomenal growth, those of fixed line and fixed wireless have seen disquieting stagnation.
According to her, challenges in the operating environment were also a limiting factor on the desire of the operators to roll out and improve service quality.
“Connectivity is concentrated in urban, commercial areas: approximately 40% of rural areas have no mobile (network) coverage. While the number of mobile subscribers is increasing, fixed line subscribers have stagnated and fixed wireless declined,” she said.
Omobola said the only way forward was to increase the spread and scope of communication infrastructure in the country. She urged the operators to look into exploring other communications technology infrastructure technologies across the country. She also admonished the operators to prioritise the roll-out of services to un-served and under-served areas so that the dividends of the telecoms revolution could get to all the nooks and crannies of the country.
Though she said the number of base transmission stations (BTS) built by the operators have increased exponentially from 116 in 2001 to more than 21,000, the pace of growth has however fluctuated while existing BTS have been “decommissioned due to terror attacks, theft and vandalisation.”