- An inquiry into telecommunications service delivery in Nigeria kicked off in Abuja on Tuesday.
- The House of Representatives is investigating why there is no telecommunications coverage in some parts of the country, especially, rural areas.
- The House committee is also investigating the total accruals into the Universal Service Provision Fund as well as its expenditures since inception.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday began an inquiry into the state of telecommunications service delivery in Nigeria. Speaking at the first public hearing on the matter organized by the House Ad hoc Committee, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said the house was concerned that some areas in the country have no access to mobile telecommunication services.
He said the House Committee is, therefore, investigating why the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) failed to promote widespread availability and usage of mobile telecommunication services nationwide. The committee is also investigating the total accruals into the Universal Service Provision Fund as well as its expenditures since inception.
The Speaker noted that though Nigeria’s telecommunications sector is one of the largest in Africa, contributing immensely to the economy and lives of millions of Nigerians, most rural communities have no access to it.
Consideration for rural dwellers
While noting that telecommunications infrastructure is concentrated in urban areas, Gbajabiamila said:
- “It is critical to note that it is not only people residing in urban areas that have the right to telecommunications, consideration should be extended to rural dwellers. The NCC, as the regulator, needs to ensure proactiveness in ensuring qualitative and efficient services are offered by the telecommunication operators.
- “And each part of the country enjoys access to telecommunications, which is a necessity in today’s world, to be at par with developed nations. “This has become necessary because mobile telecommunications has grown to become vital to Nigeria’s economic development, as it provides the infrastructural backbone for the digital economy that drives development.”
Gbajabiamila said the NCC and other operators in the sector needed to live up to expectations by ensuring efficient and qualitative service delivery to all Nigerians and not to some specific areas.
Earlier, the chairman of the committee, Rep. Bamidele Salam (PDP-Osun), said that the hearing was to investigate why mobile telecommunications coverage was not total as envisaged by the NCC Act.
He said that the parliament was also interested in the steps so far taken by the regulators to bridge the access gap, especially in underserved and unserved areas. The chairman said that the committee will also probe the total accruals into the Universal Service Provision Fund as well as its expenditures since inception.
- “By the resolution of the house, the major stakeholders in this industry have been contacted and invited to come and make presentations in this hearing. We are hopeful that at the end of the three days set aside for this purpose, we will reach the main purpose of the committee.
- “This industry is very critical to national development, security, and poverty alleviation, as seen in most economies around the world.
- “Nigeria, as the largest democracy in Africa and the third largest in the world, cannot be seen as lagging behind in terms of leveraging on the opportunities available in this industry to advance the welfare of its citizens,” he said.
As of February, this year, active mobile subscriptions in Nigeria stood at 126 million. However, the majority of the connected lines are in major cities. The NCC had also recently admitted that there are still connectivity gaps in Nigeria, which have to be bridged through the deployment of more telecom infrastructure across the country.
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