The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says that the number of Nigerians living in areas without telecommunications service has dropped to 27 million from an estimated 37 million in 2013.
The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NCC, Umar Garba Danbatta, disclosed this at a recent telecoms industry stakeholders’ forum in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
Danbatta, who was represented at the forum by the Head, Pre-Licensing at the Commission, Usman Mamman, said from 207 clusters of access gaps in 2013, the industry has witnessed a reduction to 97 as of the end of 2022 by bridging 110 clusters of access gaps.
Access gaps refer to the cluster of communities or grouped areas in different parts of the country that are bereft of access to telecom services and till date, the NCC has reduced clusters of access gap by more than half.
Danbatta said “We have worked tirelessly to ensure we bring telecom services to people living in rural, unserved, and underserved areas of this country, totalling 37 million people.
“By 2019, we had succeeded in reducing the clusters of access gaps to 114 through the deployment of the necessary infrastructure needed to bring services to people living in rural, unserved and underserved areas of the country.
“The deployment of infrastructure is in terms of base transceiver stations, which resulted in the reduction of Nigerians in those clusters from 37 million to 31 million in 2019.
“By 2022, we have reduced the clusters of access gaps to 97 from 207 in 2013. The number of Nigerians again has come down from 37 million in 2013 to 27 million as we speak. We achieved this by deploying, from 2009 to 2011, a total of 79 new base transceiver stations.”
Danbatta said that from 2013 to 2018, the telecom sector also witnessed the deployment of additional 124 base transceiver stations, while from 2019 to 2022, a total of 364 base transceiver stations were deployed.
While describing the reduction in access gap so far as a landmark, Danbatta, however, said the commission would not rest on its oars as it thrives to ensure that the remaining 27 million Nigerians, who currently lack access to telecoms services, are provided with services.