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Challenges impact investment in Nigeria’s broadband ambitions

Nigeria , 17 May 2024
Dr Bosun Tijani, Nigeria’s comms minister. (Picture credit: Twitter/X).
Dr Bosun Tijani, Nigeria’s comms minister. (Picture credit: Twitter/X).

The Nigerian government is in a race against time to attain its target of 70% broadband penetration by 2025. The current level is 43.5%.

Chinwe Egim, Chief Economist at the Coronation Merchant Bank, is sceptical and said an infrastructure deficit in the telecommunications industry is one of several issues hindering investment by the private sector.

“Furthermore, changes in government policies, licensing requirements, or taxation create uncertainty, leading investors to adopt a cautious approach,” said Egim. “Investors may also be hesitant to commit significant capital without assurances that infrastructure constraints will be addressed effectively.”

Last year, the Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, disclosed that Nigeria required at least US$2 billion (about N3.050 trillion Naira) investment to lay nationwide fibre optic cables to achieve its broadband target.

The government, in partnership with the World Bank, aims to secure $3 billion to finance an additional 120 000 kilometres of optic cables, augmenting broadband infrastructure and connectivity.

Additionally, plans are underway to establish a digital national broadband fund and deploy approximately 95 000 kilometres of middle-mile cable in the near to medium-term.

According to Egim, notably, by end-2023, only 78 676 kilometres of fibre optic cables had been deployed, indicating a pressing need for accelerated efforts in broadband expansion.

Experts suggest that a 10% increase in broadband penetration can increase the GDP of an economy by between 1.6% and 1,8% respectively.

“Broadband penetration offers lucrative opportunities for both public and private stakeholders, contributing to infrastructure expansion and modernisation efforts,” Egim noted.

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