The Executive Vice Chairman, EVC, of the Nigeria Communication Commission, Umar Danbatta, has revealed that the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy is planning to reduce the cost of data from N1,000 to N390 per gigabyte.
Speaking to journalists in Kano on Saturday, Mr Danbatta disclosed that part of the plan was the new national broadband plan for the year 2020-2025, which says Nigeria must provide broadband connectivity, cover virtually all parts of the country and deploy 4G infrastructure also across the country.
According to him, the ministry was tasked to come up with a digital economy policy and strategies, adding that all the efforts put in place are intended to bring the cost of data down to N390 as against the N1,000 that Mobile Network Operators, MNOs, are charging.
“Actually the cost has come down to N1,000/gigabyte of data, but the government is saying that we should be targeting N390 in the next 3 to 5 years.”
To achieve subsidized data cost, according to Mr Dambatta, the country must provide pervasive broadband data infrastructure.
“We need pervasive broadband data infrastructure because at the landing point in Lagos, where we have all the submarine cables. You know, that is why we have them. There is the main cable, 133, West African Sea Cable (WASC). And there is the other one which Glo company is trying to deploy.
“This, combined, have data capacity of 40 terabyte. This data capacity is at the landing point in Lagos. That is from the coast, where there is ocean. Until and unless you move this massive 40 terabyte data capacity into the hinterland because the undersea cables are terminating in Lagos.
“Hinterland consists virtually all the major cities of the country and the 774 Local Governments of Nigeria. Through this way you will be meeting demands for data with appropriate or commensurate supply of data. This is how it will enable Nigerians to pay less data tariff.
“But this massive capacity of data at landing cost can’t move itself. There is the need to build fibre cables that can carry this capacity to the hinterland.
“We are indeed pursuing the plan. There is infrastructure and company licensing framework that could give the companies the ability to afford to sell the data to the retail agents, who will sell the data to the citizens,” he explained.
At the moment, he added, the plan is not happening but is what the country intends to do to bring the cost of data down from N1,000 /gig to N390/gig, adding that the plan is an important policy of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The EVC however said Nigeria is among the countries with lowest data cost in the whole Africa.
“Following observation of the ranking, which was carried out by reputable global organizations, the commission had found out that Nigeria stands in 4th position among the countries with lowest data tariff on the continent,” Mr Danbatta said.
He said Nigeria’s data cost is more than $2, adding that South Africa, despite her economic development, sells data higher than Nigeria and the country is not even among the lowest.
“It is true that Nigerians are yearning for low data prices. Nigeria has one of the lowest data tariff in Africa. When we observed the rankings by global reputable organizations, we discovered that in the rankings of data services and cost, we are like number 4.
“Virtually all the African countries were listed in the ranking. Our data price is $2 and a few cents.
“In South Africa, despite their economic development, they sell data higher than Nigeria. To be honest with you, South Africa is not even among the lowest. Cost of data services doesn’t need to come down,” he said.