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NCC: How Nigeria Attained 30.9% Broadband Penetration Target

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  • NCC: How Nigeria Attained 30.9% Broadband Penetration Target

Fresh facts have emerged on how Nigeria attained and surpassed the country’s 30 per cent target for broadband penetration in December 2018.

The Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mr. Sunday Dare, said at the weekend that the NCC used the UN data and available statistics as baseline in arriving at 30.9 per cent broadband penetration.

According to him, the UN data has been consistent over the years, adding that the same data is equally used by the International Telecoms Union (ITU), which is an arm of the United Nations that oversees global telecoms activities.

Dare noted that Nigerians predominantly relied on mobile networks to access the internet, including broadband networks, adding that broadband penetration is typically measured by the percentage of total population with access to broadband networks.

He, therefore, explained that although Nigeria had hovered around 21 and 22 per cent broadband penetration over the last couple of years, mobile subscribers in the country as at November 2018, reached a total of 168,729,005.

Of this figure, 108,457,051, subscribed to internet access services provided by the major operators.

“In terms of broadband services, a total of 58,965,478 were connected to the internet through 3G and 4G networks, including those provided by the Long Term Evolution (LTE)-only service providers, such as Smile and nTel,” Dare said.

According to him, NCC took the total active broadband subscription figure of 58,965,478 and divided it by the country’s population figure of 190,886,311, and multiplied it by a percentage of 100, using the UN’s projection as at December 2017, and arrived at a broadband penetration percentage of 30.9 per cent.

He said issues could of course be raised about using the UN figure as baseline, but he further explained that the NCC used that figure for consistency since that appears to be the baseline used by the ITU in its earlier studies.

“This is why the World Bank asserted that increasing broadband by just 10 per cent in developing economies would deliver at least 1.38 per cent GDP increase per capita, while a 10 per cent increase in internet penetration would lead to about 1.12 per cent increase in GDP per capita”, Dare added.

Although some stakeholders are still sceptical as to how Nigeria suddenly attained and surpassed the 30 per cent broadband penetration, since the country hovered around 21 and 22 per cent broadband penetration for too long, Dare clarified that mobile broadband usage among Nigerians surged with smartphone penetration, which gave it a further boost.

According to him, as Nigerians became heavy users of smartphones to access the internet on the go, broadband penetration in the country deepened.

“As everyone knows, telecoms networks and infrastructure are critical enablers for any nation desirous of participating in the opportunities driving the next phase of world economic growth. The fourth industrial revolution demands democratised access to super-fast networks and digital platforms. Indeed, emerging economies which underperformed in previous economic evolutions have a leapfrogging opportunity, which can be realised by giving their citizens affordable access to broadband networks and digital services,” Dare said.

He explained that although the telecoms sector was faced with challenges like Right of Way (RoW) charges, tedious approval processes across the states of the federation, issues with approvals for towers and masts, imposition of unstructured taxes and charges among others, the sector still managed to attain and surpass the 30 per cent broadband penetration target.

“Despite being dogged by a myriad of issues, the sector has always held its own. Its contributions to GDP have been contritely high, peaking at 10.43 per cent in the second quarter of 2018. It has continued to boost employment both directly and indirectly, and it has provided a strong infrastructure backbone, which has facilitated higher levels of efficiency in practically all other sectors of the economy. The attainment of 30 per cent broadband penetration indeed entitles the industry to a collective pat-on-the-back,” Dare said.

He added that the NCC’s assertion that Nigeria has attained 30.9 per cent broadband penetration was logical and supported by available data in the commission’s custody.

The federal government, in 2013, issued the National Broadband Plan (2013-2018), which sets penetration targets for both fixed and mobile broadband throughout Nigeria. Of the many targets set by the document, the most prominent one was the projection that Nigeria must reach 30 per cent broadband penetration by December 2018. There was however a large dose of pessimism about the country’s ability to reach this target before the December 31, 2018 deadline. But few months before the deadline, Nigeria narrowly reached and surpassed the 30 per cent broadband target.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Visa and Mastercard Face Setback as Judge Indicates Likely Rejection of $30 Billion Deal

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Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. are facing a potential setback as a federal judge in Brooklyn indicated she is likely to reject their $30 billion settlement with retailers.

The deal, aimed at capping credit-card swipe fees, has been a focal point of contention between the card giants and merchants for years.

Judge Margo Brodie of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York expressed skepticism about the settlement during a hearing on Thursday.

According to court records, Judge Brodie suggested she might not approve the agreement, stating she would issue a written decision in the coming days.

Retailers have long campaigned to reduce their share of the costs associated with accepting card payments, known as interchange fees.

These fees, which are partially passed on to banks that issue the cards, including major institutions like JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc., have been a burden for many merchants.

Announced in March and pending court approval, the settlement was designed to allow merchants to charge consumers extra for transactions involving Visa or Mastercard credit cards.

The agreement also aimed to introduce pricing tactics to steer consumers towards lower-cost cards.

“The court’s comments strongly suggest that she won’t accept the settlement,” noted Justin Teresi, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. “While Judge Brodie doesn’t seem convinced that larger retailers should be allowed to opt out from the settlement, provisions like changes to digital wallet acceptance rules and some state bans on surcharges likely present real adequacy issues.”

Both Visa and Mastercard expressed disappointment over the developments. A Mastercard representative stated, “We believe the settlement presented a fair resolution of this long-standing dispute, most notably by giving business owners more flexibility in how they manage their card acceptance activities. We will pursue our options to ensure a proper resolution of this matter.”

Visa’s spokesperson echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that “continued engagement between industry and the merchants is the best way forward.”

Swipe fees have become a substantial financial issue for retailers, totaling more than $160 billion last year, according to the Merchants Payments Coalition. Reactions to the settlement were mixed when it was announced, with some retail coalitions pledging a thorough review and others quickly opposing it.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association, representing large merchants such as Target Corp. and Home Depot Inc., described the settlement as a “mere drop in the bucket” and urged careful review to assess if it adequately addresses the harm inflicted on retailers.

Doug Kantor, general counsel for the National Association of Convenience Stores, praised the judge’s remarks, stating, “We’re gratified to see that the court recognized how bad this settlement was.”

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Norwegian Watchdog Slams Meta for Cumbersome Opt-Out Process in AI Training Plans

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Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is facing a new legal challenge in Norway over its plans to utilize user images and posts to train artificial intelligence (AI) models.

The Norwegian Consumer Council has lodged a complaint, criticizing Meta’s cumbersome and deceptive opt-out process, which it argues breaches stringent EU data protection regulations.

The Council’s statement on Thursday highlighted that Meta’s method for allowing users to opt out of data collection for AI training is overly complicated and intentionally confusing.

“The process to opt-out breaches strict EU data protection rules and has been made deliberately cumbersome by using deceptive design patterns and vague wording,” the Council said.

This isn’t Meta’s first run-in with European regulators regarding data privacy. The tech giant has previously faced multiple complaints for allegedly failing to obtain proper consent from users before collecting their data to target advertisements.

Also, the European Union’s top court has warned Meta about safeguarding public information on users’ sexual orientation from being used for personalized advertising.

“We are urging the Data Protection Authority to assess the legality of Meta’s practices and to ensure that the company is operating in compliance with the law,” stated Inger Lise Blyverket, head of the Norwegian Consumer Council.

The complaint was prepared by the European Center for Digital Rights and will be submitted to the Norwegian Data Protection Authority, as well as other European data protection authorities.

Due to Meta’s EU base in Dublin, the Irish Data Protection Commission will serve as the lead authority in this matter.

The outcome of this complaint could have significant implications for how Meta, and other tech companies, handle user data within the EU.

Meta’s use of user data for training AI has raised significant privacy concerns. Critics argue that without clear and straightforward consent mechanisms, users are often unaware of how their data is being used.

This latest complaint underscores the ongoing tension between big tech companies and European regulators striving to enforce robust privacy standards.

The Norwegian Consumer Council’s action reflects a growing impatience with tech giants’ data practices, emphasizing the need for transparency and user control.

As AI technologies continue to advance, ensuring ethical and lawful data usage remains a critical challenge for both companies and regulators.

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Ethio Telecom Sale to Foreign Bidders Halted; Local Investors to Get Priority

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Ethiopia has decided to halt the sale of its state-owned telecommunications operator, Ethio Telecom, to foreign investors.

Instead, the government will prioritize domestic retail investors before listing the company on the nation’s upcoming securities exchange.

Originally, the Ethiopian government planned to sell 45% of Ethio Telecom to foreign investors. This approach was abandoned in November after Orange SA, a major contender, withdrew from the bidding process.

Emirates Telecommunications Group Co. was also rumored to have considered a bid but did not proceed.

“There were bidders, but each one of them has left the process at one point,” said Abdurehman Eid, CEO of Ethiopian Investment Holdings, which is overseeing the sale along with the finance ministry. “At the end, we felt it’s probably better to halt the process.”

Eid explained that foreign interest did not meet Ethiopia’s expectations. “The priority now is to expedite the sale of 10% to retail investors, who are showing a huge appetite,” he noted during an interview at a sovereign wealth fund conference in Mauritius.

The focus on foreign investors will resume after Ethio Telecom is listed on the Ethiopian Securities Exchange (ESX), set to commence operations in October.

Ethio Telecom, the largest telecommunications operator in Africa’s second most-populous country, had a monopoly for decades. By January, the company boasted 74.6 million subscribers and recorded a profit of 11 billion birr ($191.6 million) for the first half of the fiscal year.

The shift in strategy underscores Ethiopia’s intention to leverage domestic investment capacity. The decision to prioritize local investors aligns with broader economic goals, aiming to stimulate local participation in major economic sectors.

This move is part of a larger plan to list five other state-owned companies on the ESX. According to Eid, proceeds from these divestitures will be utilized to reduce public debt.

Over the years, enterprises controlled by the government have accumulated substantial debt, leading to financial struggles.

The Liability Asset Management Corp., established three years ago, currently manages close to 780 billion birr in debt.

By redirecting the sale of Ethio Telecom shares to local investors, Ethiopia is fostering a more inclusive investment environment and setting a precedent for future listings.

The new strategy is expected to enhance domestic capital markets and provide more opportunities for Ethiopian citizens to invest in the country’s economic future.

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