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February 25, 2022

Nigerian regulator instructs InfraCos to deploy fixed broadband

In December 2021, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) directed the seven licensed infrastructure companies (InfraCos) in the country to start deploying broadband infrastructure, particularly fiber, in the next five months across the 774 local government areas (LGAs) in the country.

These seven InfraCos, including MainOne and Zinox Technology Limited, received their licenses as part of Nigeria’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) to rollout fiber infrastructure across the country. Some of the InfraCos received their licenses as early as 2016, but progress has been slow thus far due to funding and economic constraints.

The NCC’s directive to start rolling out infrastructure supports Nigeria’s NBP (2020-2025) which aims to provide internet speeds of 25Mbps in urban areas and 10Mbps in rural areas and increase the fiber network from 40,000km in 2020 to at least 120,000km in 2025. Furthermore, the NBP aims to connect 60% of the towers in the country with fiber, preparing the country’s infrastructure for the launch of 5G, which is expected in 2022.

The NCC pursued a strategy of leveraging InfraCos to build out broadband infrastructure to speed up the deployment to rural areas and help close the digital divide. In 2020, much of the fiber networks in Nigeria were owned by the mobile network operators (MNOs) in the country and overlapped and concentrated in the major cities.

The NCC aims to incentivize the InfraCos to build networks outside of these areas and into more rural areas with grants and funding. The NCC estimated a $1-$1.5 billion investment is required to fund the additional 80,000km of fiber network that is targeted in the NBP (2020-2025). The NBP and the subsequent efforts to rollout fiber by the InfraCos will support Nigeria’s total fixed broadband lines increasing at a robust CAGR of 19.2% over 2021-2026, growing from 497,700 lines to 1.2 million.