Nigeria is unlikely to meet its broadband penetration target of 30% penetration before 2018, as per the government's National Broadband Plan.
This is according to Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), who said authorities are no longer confident the target will be achieved and cited inadequate layout of infrastructure in the sector as one of the main challenges.
According to the NCC Nigeria recorded a slight reduction in the number of total active lines at the end of February 2016, yet teledensity remains above 100% (106.16%).
The number of mobile internet users continues to increase year-on-year - even though stakeholders believe the country will only be able to truly leverage the opportunities presented by the internet when there is appreciable broadband penetration, claims the regulatory body.
Danbatta said one of the main reasons for this is because of the reluctance of several of the licensed infrastructure companies to commence operations, adding that only two out of seven firms are licensed for deployment in Lagos and North-central zones.
Danbatta refused to mention specific amounts in terms of required investment, but said the broadband target could only be achieved if infrastructure requirements are met, and providing this infrastructure would be capital intensive.
Industry experts suggest that investors may be reluctant to commit to the West African country's broadband market because it lacks specific basic requirements, including a widely accepted regulatory framework. This is still being developed and several licenses are yet to be awarded, according to the NCC.
"We are at the stage of developing the regulatory framework and we are doing that and once this exercise is completed we are envisaging that the licensing of the remaining zones with the provision of broadband infrastructure will take place within the next three or four months," Danbatta said
In spite of the current setbacks to broadband penetration, stakeholders remain confident that broadband will dominate Nigeria's telecoms market.
Kamar Abbase, CEO of the Ntel believes this will happen by 2020. "The truth is that the demand for telecoms services globally will always be underestimated, and there will always be underestimation in the transition that is occurring in the telecoms industry. But we are beginning to see a tremendous shift in the telecoms sector and this paradigm shift is unstoppable, and the shift is from a voice oriented communication market to a market that will be dominated by data and mobile broadband by 2020," he said.