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5G internet readiness of Nigeria has been set at 97 per cent by the Vice-chairman of the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta. Umar made this statement at  at the annual Africa Tech Alliance Forum (#AfriTECH2021) organised by TechEconomy.ng, held in Lagos on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, with the overarching theme: “Embracing Changes and Digital Transformation in the New Normal.”

Focusing his presentation on “NCC as a Digital Transformation Crusader and Nigeria’s in-Road to 5G Deployment,” Danbatta stated that, following the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a change in the dynamics of people’s interaction, especially on the Internet. According to him, almost every means of communication has become virtual in one way or the other.

The EVC was represented at #AfriTECH2021 by Engr. Oluwatoyin Asaju, director, Spectrum Administration at NCC.

Danbatta, however, stated that this paradigm shift in communication has led to a significant increase in network connectivity requirements as a result of the unprecedented upsurge in Internet traffic, occasioned by the use of a plethora of web applications such as Konn3ct.com, Zoom, Microsoft teams, WebEx, Goto Webinar and so on. He said this has made remote work, virtual meetings, virtual studies and virtual healthcare delivery, among others, the new normal.

According to Danbatta, even though, the network infrastructure in Nigeria has demonstrated some capacity to contain the surge in internet traffic, a lot of work is being done by the Commission to boost network capacity, sensitise the public and ensure access to affordable connectivity during the period of the pandemic and beyond.

Due to the network traffic demand, the EVC said the NCC is working with operators to implement a number of initiatives to ensure network expansion.

These, he said, include an ongoing plan to auction spectrum in 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) band to operators for the deployment of 5G network in Nigeria.

“Consistent with our mandate as enshrined in the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 (NCA-2003) and other guiding legislations, we have been working to ensure the penetration of broadband services in line with Federal Government’s targets, as contained in Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020 to 2025.

Already, we are set for the auction some spectrum slots in 3.5GHz band. The other day I was at the National assembly, I informed the senate that we were 95 per cent ready for 5G. Today as we speak, I am delighted to tell you that we are already at 97 per cent completion.

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta,
Executive Vice Chairman of NCC

“The Committee set up to auction the Spectrum has already developed an Information Memorandum (IM) which is already published for inputs and comments from all industry stakeholders. Prior to this, a 5G deployment plan was developed and we have since secured Federal Government’s approval,” he said.

He said this is in addition to a lot of other initiatives being put in place by the Commission to improve broadband connectivity in Nigeria, adding that the surge in Internet traffic induced by Covid-19 has continued to challenge National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) and other arms of governments to ensure deployment of adequate resources such as spectrum and other forms of support to increase network resilience and accessibility to telecommunication services.

“Emerging technologies such as 5G, which NCC is driving aggressively in Nigeria, Internet of Things (IoT); Cloud Computing; Quantum Computing Augmented/Virtual Reality, and similar emerging technologies are playing a critical role in improving remote communication over the internet with great user experience. The NCC is committed to promoting this inevitable change and enhance user experience through effective regulation of the telecoms sector,” the EVC said.

Also in attendance at #AfriTECH2021 was Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, the Director, Public Affairs.

Earlier, Mr. Peter Oluka, Editor of TechEconomy.ng and the convener of AfriTECH said that Nigeria must play a leading role in the fourth industrial revolution by embracing emerging technologies such as 5G, Internet of Things; Cloud Computing; Quantum Computing Augmented/Virtual Reality which are also playing a critical role in improving remote communication over the internet with great user experience.

He said that the recent events around COVID-19 Pandemic demonstrated why the government and the private sector must embrace digital transformation.

Oluka said, “In the seeming blink of an eye, the pandemic changed everything: how we worked, shopped, attended to school, entertained ourselves, got medicare, engaged with government agencies, and connected with friends and family.

“The world literally shut down and everything was forced to adapt. In fact, every part of the society was affected and many are still affected. The pandemic has also rocked many of the core tenets of digital transformation.

“But with a forced change of this magnitude, we witnessed the impossible become possible. For instance, projects that would have taken years took just weeks; business models that were dependent on being ‘in-person’ successfully pivoted to being delivered digitally, and customers ultimately adapted and found businesses that pivoted gracefully throughout the pandemic. Our assumptions and beliefs have completely changed.

Other key industry stakeholders participated at the one-day Forum, which also featured an exhibition by some sector players such as Zoho Corporation, Medallion Communications, Layer3 and Notion Technology Limited (representatives of American #1 Technology company – Comway – and Hsv Products)

The #AfriTECH2021 had Zoho as the lead sponsors received support from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA); Galaxy Backbone Limited, as partners, also sponsored by Rack Centre, Digital Encode, Cloudflex Computing Services Limited, Zinochrome International, Layer3, Notion Technology Limited and Medallion Communications.

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