The Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, has predicted that the Nigeria’s teledensity would reach 98 per cent by 2015, while expressing optimism at a continued high speed growth in mobile subscriptions in subsequent years.
The Minister made the assertion in Lagos at the weekend, while presenting the mid-term ministerial scorecard at a stakeholder’s forum in Lagos.
Created in July 2011 in recognition of the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in economic and social development, Johnson said the ministry achieved so much within two years of its creation.
According to her, most of the priorities of the ministry in the areas of local content development, adoption of ICTs in government, and the provision of enabling environment for the support of the development of ICT sector, were fully achieved in a space of two years. She insisted that such efforts largely contributed to the rise of the country’s teledensity in mobile subscriptions from 68.5 per cent in 2011to 71.5 per cent in 2012 and 83 per cent in 2013.
“As at 2001, when GSM services were rolled out in the country, total teledensity was at 0.4 per cent, with a total of 400,000 subscriptions in fixed lines and mobile lines. Today, the country’s total number of subscriptions for fixed lines and mobile lines is put at 117 million, with a teledensity of 83 per cent, and it is expected to reach 98 per cent by 2015,” Johnson said. She however lamented the slow growth rate of fixed line telephony in the country, which she puts at 0.5 per cent in 2011, 1.5 per cent in 2012, 1.8 per cent in 2013, and predicted it would reach10 per cent by 2015.
Eulogising the minister for her efforts in accelerating growth in the ICT sector in just two years, Chief Executive Officer of Teledom Group, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, said ICT stakeholders were proud to have her as a minister because her efforts were felt in the area of broadband development and penetration, as well as in developing and encouraging local talents in software development.
Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, also joined in commending the minister for her efforts in redirecting the ICT sector, but insisted that the issue of right of way must be addressed in order to give telecoms operating companies, the freedom to roll out Base Transceiver Stations (BTS), to improve service quality. Adebayo called on government to intensify action in the area of protecting telecoms facilities in the country, and to come out with a policy that would place telecoms facilities as critical national infrastructure.
Johnson said the ministry facilitated increased confidence in the communication sector, leading to willingness to increase investment in infrastructure; extending communication infrastructure to un-served and under-served communities; facilitating rural broadband initiative, which provided wholesale internet bandwidth to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), cyber cafes and ICT centres across the country; monitoring and ensuring service quality among others.
She listed the ministry’s focus for the next two years to include creating enabling environment to support cloud computing, working with training partners to improve local training of Nigerians in software development, to expand government’s use of ICT in order to increase efficiency and effectiveness in governance, and to improve the use of hybrid power by network operators, among others.