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Minister Chides GSM Operators for Poor Service

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Image:Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs Mobolaji Johnson

The four major network providers in the country have been blamed for the low network being experienced, a situation which negates the existence of additional 101 million lines generated since the inception of the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM).

Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs Mobolaji Johnson, who observed that mobile penetration in the country remained the lowest in Africa, pointed out that a lot needs to be done by both the government and the private sector to address the situation.
Mobolaji told State House correspondents Tuesday, after briefing President Goodluck Jonathan on her Ministry’s 2012 budget performance, that Nigerians should not be deceived by the proliferation of the GSM companies.

“In terms of penetration we are 60 per cent, forget about 101million telephone lines that is the number of subscribers. But when you look at the mobile penetration in Nigeria we are about 60 per cent, which is actually one of the lowest in Africa.

“So there is a lot of work to do. When you talk about quality of service, what is the reason for the poor quality of service? It is the first part that I mentioned, poor infrastructure. We don’t have enough infrastructure in this country.

“Let me give you an example of the UK versus Nigeria. The UK in terms of geographical land mass is one third of the size of Nigeria and the population is about 67 to 167million which is about one third of the size of Nigeria,” she said.

“Today UK has over 3million square kilometre of fibre across the country. They got up to 50 to 60 thousand base station, servicing 67 million people. So when up go to the UK and you don’t experience drop calls and all of that and that their broad band is fast just think back to Nigeria.

“We have about 100 thousand square kilometre of fibre covering one million square kilometre of the country. We have 20 thousand base stations trying to serve all of us. So it is a case of demand and supply.”

Admitting that although the communication industry has expanded rapidly within a decade of its introduction, the minister insisted that the network providers must invest more in infrastructure so as to expand penetration and deal with poor quality service.

Her words: “The industry has grown very quickly and we are not building up that infrastructure as quickly as we need to and so what we need to do is to actually build that infrastructure and that is why we are working with the network operators to build the infrastructure. We need to have more base stations, we need to roll out more fibre optics and government role is to make the process as easy as possible for them.”

She also admitted that getting the right of way to roll out fibre optics was cumbersome, but hasten to add the measures put in place by her ministry to ease the procedure.

“So for instance, to roll out fibre optics in any part of the world you need right of way because every right of way belongs to government. The procedure by which you get right of way in Nigeria is protracted, cumbersome, it is expensive.

“What we have done for the federal right of way we have been able to standardise that process to say that when you apply for right of way it is given to you within 21 days and it will cost you N145, 000 per line a kilometre, but that is at the federal level.

“We need to work to do same at the state level to facilitate the procurement of right of way and bring down the cost of right of way to roll out this infrastructure. And that is what I call enlightened self interest,  because basically when you make it expensive there are some states that are charging, N1 million to N2 million per kilometre to roll-out the fibre.

“So when you charge millions of Naira to roll out the fibre, you have already spent millions of Naira before you do anything at all. The state government should create enabling environment through policies and directives that will make them to roll out the infrastructure,” the minister added.

On the 2012 budget, Johnson said the focus had been on providing infrastructure like base stations and rolling out of optic fibre to ensure greater connectivity of the country, job creation through local content, as well as promotion of e-governance.

She, however, lamented that out of the total capital budget of N9.2 billion, only 9.8 per cent of that amount has been released to her ministry. 

According to her, the Ministry is in the process of raising $15 million for ICT development

Article Credit:Thisday News 

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Updated 7 Years ago

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