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Nigeria Poised for Massive Deployment of 5G Networks in January 2022, Says Pantami

Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.

Nigeria’s Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy has disclosed that country plans massive deployment of 5G technology for increased connectivity in January next year. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is the main regulatory agency overseeing this huge deployment.

 Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, disclosed this development Thursday, September 23, 2021, at a Town Hall Meeting, in Maiduguri, Borno State capital, held to address vandalism of power and telecommunications infrastructure.

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The Minister, who was represented on the occasion by Mr. Ubale Maska, Commissioner for Technical Services, at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), noted that when 5G technology are extensively deployed January next year, and the networks would aid surveillance against the vandalisation of public assets in Nigeria.

The Borno State Ministry of Information and Culture organised the forum, which was attended by Governor (Prof.) Babagana Zulum, Mr. Usman Kadafur, Deputy Governor of Borno State, and other stakeholders.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Honourable Minister for Information and Culture, led the other ministers who were panelists at the town hall meeting.

Pantami recalled at the forum that the country’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) recently endorsed 5G technology policy in preparation for the deployment of the networks for increased connectivity in the country.

The Minister subsequently, tasked Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO), Nigerian Communications Commission, and his Management team to immediately activate the digital economy agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Participants in the Town Hall Meeting in Maiduguri as well discussed practical ways to address the recurrent vandalism of power and telecommunications infrastructure in the country.

Pantami explained, that deployment of the 5G networks would boost surveillance against criminal elements destroying public infrastructure and assets across the country, and other measures should be taken in order to arrest and bring such perpetrators to book.

In regard to the spread of such critical telecoms infrastructure in Nigeria, the Minister for Communications and Digital Economy also disclosed that there are over 50,000 telecommunications sites across the country.

According to him, this relatively large number of such telecoms base stations has made it difficult to man manually, except through the deployment of modern technology.

On vandalism of public property, Pantami said there were about 16,000 reported outages by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country, including MTN Nigeria, Globacom, Airtel and 9Mobile, specifically from January 2021 to July 2021.

The outages, according to him, were due to fiber cuts, access denial, and theft leading to service disruptions in the affected areas.

The Minister, however, emphasised the need for protection of these critical infrastructural facilities as significant to the security, economic vitality, public health and safety of the citizenry.

He frowned on a situation in which telecoms installations that were destroyed in the attacks by terrorists have not been replaced as a result of the lingering insecurity and tensions, particularly in parts of the North-East region of the country.

Going forward, Pantami recommended continuous stakeholders engagement and synergy among the Nigerian security agencies for success in this regard.

The Minister as well urged the National Assembly to fast-track the passage of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill for onward submission to President Muhammadu Buhari for his

In another development, Karl Olutokun Toriola, Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria has stressed that 5G Networks Are Potential Game-Changer In Nigerian Telecoms Sector

Mr. Toriola, stated this in a recent interview to mark the 20th Anniversary of telecommunications services in the country.

The MTN CEO said: “We’re on the verge of introducing 5G services, which is another potential game-changer, really driving the adoption of the Internet of Things.”

Going down the memory lane on how the telecoms sector in Nigeria has performed in the last two decades, Mr.Toriola said in respect of the ability to communicate with loved ones and teams at will, “it is surprising to many of us that it was only 20 years ago when it was impossible to let someone know you would be late for an appointment!”

He explained that the first wave of transition is so deeply embedded in daily life now that it is taken entirely for granted, but that telecoms consumers must not forget that despite the ongoing transition to data, millions of Nigerians still rely on voice and SMS services, especially the most vulnerable in the society.

 “That was so clear during the COVID lockdowns when we gave every customer free 300 SMS per month and saw more than 52 million customers send more than 4 billion messages in less than three months.

“We still have work to do here, with voice connections continuing to grow on the back of existing growth opportunities and a fast-growing population.

 “We need to continue to expand into rural areas and serve the under-served, bridging the remaining connectivity divide,” Toriola noted.

According to him, as Nigerian telecoms consumers do this, the transition to data is happening very rapidly and has accelerated since the onset of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

He stated: “With more and more businesses reliant on remote working and e-commerce, demand is growing, and it’s essential that we continue to enhance service quality and reliability while being cognizant that these services need to be affordable and accessible to as many people as possible. The data journey has really evolved over time.

In terms of the evolution of the different generations of telecommunications networks over time, the MTN Chief recalled from “the 2G connections that introduced broad access to mobile connectivity in 2001, through the 3G proposition that enabled more tasks to be delivered remotely, through to 4G, which is the backbone for video calling, SVOD and other data-heavy services, that process never stops.

Toriala has declared “we’re on the verge of introducing 5G services, which is another potential game-changer, really driving the adoption of the Internet of Things.”

He as well said that the telecoms sector has impacted the Nigerian economy in the last 20 years.

Toriola noted it has been transformational in so many ways in that some are clear to all and some that are perhaps less easy for the ordinary person to see.

 “I think many of the changes have become so embedded that it’s often difficult to relate to life without them.

“But let’s start with basic economics. In Q4 2020, the Telecoms sector constituted 12.2 percent of Nigeria’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product),” MTN Nigeria CEO stated.

He also explained that it is an industry that was virtually nascent in 2001, contributing N1.20Kobo for every N10 the Nigerian economy generates.

He stressed “but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Apart from the huge revenues from the wider ICT sector, the numbers don’t incorporate the catalytic growth that the telecoms industry enables in other sectors.

“Think about the operational efficiencies that connectivity has enabled over the last 20 years.”

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