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FG to secure $6bn Loan Deal for Telecoms Infrastructure

By The Citizen
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The Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson Tuesday said the federal government was working towards securing a total of $6 billion investment to promote efficient telecommunication services across the country.

The investment, according to the minister, would be done through major telecommunications service providers before the end of the year.

According to her, out of the $6 billion, $3 billion was part of the syndicate loan facility extended to major operators in the market.
Johnson made the disclosure in Abuja, while addressing the media during the ministry's mid-term review of  the present administration. While acknowledging the importance of adequate infrastructure to efficient service delivery in the sector, she said: 'Significantly more base stations need to be deployed across the country to meet national target of a five-fold increase in broad band penetration from the present 27,000 base stations in 2013 to 60,000 in 2018.'

She however, regretted that about 150 base stations were lost in 2012 due to bombings and flooding, saying that many dependent base stations were also affected.

On the slow growth of base stations across the country, she said beside higher set-up and operating costs which are largely due to multiple taxation and levies, lack of sustainable power supply, vandalism and theft were also militating factors against the growth of the industry.

She said: 'Delays and operational costs, due to multiple regulation and unstandardised application and approved processes.'
The minister stated in the last two years of operation, her ministry had facilitated increased confidence in the communications sector which she argued had led to willingness to increase investment in infrastructure. This, according to her, had resulted in the merger of three CDMA operators. She said the ministry had also secured agreement with the various state governments via the National Economic Council to eliminate multiple taxation and streamline application and approval processes.

According to her, the National Communications Communication (NCC) and the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) had harmonised the regulation for the setting up of base stations across the country.

Johnson further said the country had recorded a significant in the number of people having access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services. This, she put at 83 percent in 2013 as against the 68.5 per cent of mobile subscribers recorded in 2011.

While she noted that the number of mobile subscribers was on the increase, she however said the fixed line subscribers had stagnated with fixed wireless being on the decline.
On the use of internet services, Johnson said, 36 per cent of the country's population now uses the facility, as against the 29 per cent recorded in 2011.