NCC: 90% of Nigerian ISPs dead
About 90 per cent of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Nigeria are dead, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has said.
Its Director, Licensing and Authorisation, Ms Funlola Akiode who spoke yesterday in Lagos during a Stakeholders’ Forum on ISPs at Lagos Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Ikeja, lamented that only 10 per cent of the 103 licensed ISPs in the country has approached the regulator for licence renewal.
She said: “The world is a global village and a necessary tool for this process is access to information of which the internet is a key element. Despite the fact that over 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population is active on mobile subscribers, the digital divide is still very wide especially as it regards rural dwellers.
“It may interest you to know that Nigeria however trends to the lowest when measured in accordance with population rate. For instance, the penetration rate of 48.4 million (2016) when compared to Nigeria’s population is just 0.3 or 34 per cent. While our population is increasing in a geometric progression, the internet usage and penetration rates are increasing in arithmetic progression.”
She lamented that the Commission has witnessed a tremendous decline in the number of applications for ISP licences while the renewal rate of this licence category too has dropped drastically.
“In the past five years, the Commission has licenced a total number of 103 ISPs nationwide but about 10 per cent has applied for renewal of the licence. That is of the reasons why we are here today, to find out if and why about 90 per cent of our ISPs are out of business and why some ISPs have not rolled out services in accordance with the conditions of their licences,” Ms. Akiode said.
According to her, as a responsive regulator, the sustainability of ISPs in the telecoms business is the primary interest of the Commisison, adding however that the regulator is not unmindful of the difficult operating environment, the stifling competition from a variety of players, dearth of funding and so on.
In his welcome address, the Executive Vice Chairman, Prof Garba Dambatta said the larger telecom industry of which ISPs are integral part, is beset with numerous challenges.
Represented by the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management, Sunday Dare, he lamented that issues with power, accessibility of forex, multiple taxation/regulation, infrastructure, vandalism as well as high costs and long delays in obtaining right of way and permits not only degrade the quality of services provided by the licencees, they also negatively affect critical the attainment of critical national objectives on the speedy roll-out of broadband networks to power socio-economic growth and the enhancement of the country’s contribution to national gross domestic product (GDP).
“The viability of ISPs is particularly challenged by factors such as the availability of cheap/ubiquitous mobile internet access, bandwidth costs, vertical integration of mobile network operators as well as the growing uptake of leased line services by operators among others. Also noteworthy is the question of availability/effectiveness of local internet exchange point.
“We believe the ISPs have a critical role to play in the attainment of national broadband growth objectives and must therefore not be left to die out,” he said.