Nigerian ISPs ‘on brink of extinction’

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

Nigeria’s rank and file of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are on the brink of extinction, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said.

The Director, Licensing and Authorisation at NCC, Ms Funlola Akiode, who raised the alarm in Lagos during a Stakeholders’ Forum on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) at Lagos Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Ikeja, said out of the 103 licensed ISPs by the regulator, only 10 percent has shown interest in applying for renewal. She also lamented that new applicants are neither showing interest in the sub-sector.

“In the past five years, the Commission has licenced a total number of 103 ISPs nationwide but about 10 per cent has applied for renewal of the licence. That is of the reasons why we are here today, to find out if and why about 90 per cent of our ISPs are out of business and why some ISPs have not rolled out services in accordance with the conditions of their licences.

“As a responsive regulator, the sustainability of ISPs in the telecoms business is our primary interest. We are not unmindful of the difficult operating environment, the stifling competition from a variety of players, dearth of funding and so on. But we are hopeful that practical and useful solutions to some of these challenges that will evolve from this interaction,” she said.

According to her, the world is a global village and a necessary tool for this process is access to information of which the internet is a key element.

“Despite the fact that over 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population is active on mobile subscribers, the digital divide is still very wide especially as it regards rural dwellers.

“It may interest you to know that Nigeria however trends to the lowest when measured in accordance with population rate. For instance, the penetration rate of 48.4 million (2016) when compared to Nigeria’s population is just 0.3 or 34 per cent. While our population is increasing in a geometric progression, the internet usage and penetration rates are increasing in arithmetic progression.

“Consequently, the Commission has witnessed a tremendous decline in the number of applications for ISP licences. The renewal rate of this licence category too has dropped drastically,” she said.

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