NCC: Telcos to ‘invest heavily’ as Nigeria dials 5G 

Nigerian telcos are to “invest heavily” in infrastructure following the deployment of fifth generation mobile service otherwise known as 5G in the country, the telecoms regulator says.

Operators in the Nigerian telecoms industry generated revenue totalling N3, 247,595,808,883.87 in 2021 when the industry’s contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) peaked at 12.61% in Q4 2021, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

MTN Nigeria, the largest mobile phone company and one of the two winners of the 5G frequency spectrum auctioned by NCC has announced the pilot rollout of the service in some cities while Mafab Communications Limited says it has secured a regulator’s extension to commence service by next year. 

Financial data of the Nigerian telecoms industry in 2021. Source: NCC

The realities of the telecoms landscape continue to change necessitating reviews of the telecoms regulators to keep pace with the fast-paced developments in the industry, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, NCC Executive Vice Chairman says. 

“One of such realities is that with the deployment of 5G,” the Nigerian telecoms regulatory chief says, noting that, “it will become necessary for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to invest heavily in communications infrastructure”, he outlines in a report on the review of the type approvals regulations and business rules of NCC.

Nigeria’s telecoms industry has returned to the growth path with 208,969,445 active phone lines; 152,018,551 internet and 84,917,994 broadband connections respectively as of July 2022, according to NCC data reviewed by Technology Times.

The Nigerian telecoms industry’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of the nation increased from 12.45% in Q4 2020 to 12.61% in Q4 2021, the telecoms regulator’s 2021 Year End Subscriber Network Data Report reveals. The total revenue in the telecoms sector recorded within the same period was N3, 247,595,808,883.87. 

The operating cost reported within the same period by the industry was N1, 720,547,371,856.01 as of December 2021 while capital expenditure (domestic investment) was 1,128,557,869,498.36 as of year-end 2021.

Capital Inflow through Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the Nigerian telecoms industry within the same period was approximately $417,481,615.30 compared to $942, 863,833.96 in 2019 according to records from the apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

NCC reports that on the infrastructural development side, a substantial telecoms infrastructure deployment was recorded in 2021 by telecoms providers split as follow:

  • A total of 49, 579 Towers were recorded from Mobile & Fixed Operators as well as Collocation and Infrastructure Companies. The operators also reported a total number of 38,288 Base Stations; 
  • Microwave coverage recorded in Year 2021 stood at 290,940.69km. This covers the Mobile and Fixed Operators;
  • The Mobile, Fixed and Other Operators recorded a total number of 99 Gateways in use in the Industry as of December 2021;
  •  Fibre Optics Deployment stood at 86,057km (terrestrial fibre & submarine cable) as of December 2021.   

Meanwhile, Danbatta while speaking at the event says that the Public Inquiry was in line with the consultative approach of NCC to review regulatory instruments every five years. 

All five regulatory instruments, the NCC EVC says, are existing instruments which are being amended to reflect current realities.