$160b in investments earmarked for Nigerian telecoms

Major stakeholders in the Nigerian telecommunications industry are to attract investments of $160 billion in 10 years, just as the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reopens issuance of more telecom licences next year.
The investment inflows to be coordinated by NCC will cover the provision of full broadband services in mobile, fixed wireless and Internet data.
The telecommunications operators are looking at local and foreign direct investments through equipment financing, debts and share capital to expand their operations.
Prof Umar Danbatta, an executive with NNC, unfolded the plan at the 21st anniversary of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) in Lagos at the weekend. 
The investments would herald a revolution in broadband services that will usher in unprecedented digital services.
In order to escape the sanction of NCC, four GSM operators in the country, including MTN, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat, would collectively pump $4.5 billion to deepen their networks and quality service in 2016, Prof Danbatta said.
The NCC is preparing to renew their GSM licence by February 2016 for another 10 years.
Broadband space
With the renewal and more licences, the telecom landscape in Nigeria should expect new investments to expand network capacity, solidify penetration and provide myriads of digital financial services in the future.
He said: “Despite all the growth we have seen, the Nigerian ICT industry is still in need of a lot of investment.”
NCC would issue new telecom spectrum licences starting from 2016 to create pervasive internet infrastructure in all the 36 states.
This will encourage increased investments that will expand broadband services and drive economic growth and development, the regulator said.
According to him, NCC will continue to implement policies that guarantee a good operating environment for telecom players.
Nigeria is expected to unveil the requisite spectrum licences that would herald a full broadband space for citizens, corporations and government agencies to create a digital and interconnected economy.
GSM was introduced in 2001 when the country had just one telephone operator, Nigeria Telecommunication (NITEL).
NITEL had just a little more than 400,000 landlines nationwide before it went moribund because it could not compete with the GSM operators.
Nigeria’s mobile subscriber base is expected to surpass 182 million by 2019, up from around 152 million active connections in August 2015.
Nigeria will remain the biggest market for mobile subscriptions in African.