Govt Support Critical To 4G Growth In Nigeria

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Government and policy interventions are critical in supporting the rollout of 4G networks in Nigeria and other parts of Africa.

This is according to an insight from Ookla, a global leader in network intelligence and connectivity insights.

Ookla said operators need more than ever support amid the challenging macroeconomic, operating conditions, and shrinking consumer disposable income.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said as of August, 4G penetration in the country stood at 28.07 per cent. It puts 2G at 60.32 per cent; 3G, at 10.78 per cent and 5G, at 0.83 per cent.

The Ookla report, which analysed 4G performance in Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Libya, Nigeria, Namibia, Mauritius, and Zimbabwe, said these countries can provide lessons and best practices that other regulators and operators can apply to bridge their own 4G performance gaps.

Notable findings of the review include that access to 4G service across the countries examined increased from 64.40 per cent in 2019 to 96.3 per cent during the first nine months of 2023.

Ookla said operators faced several technical and operational challenges that impacted the quality of Nigeria’s 4G connectivity. It said this was the result of the network infrastructure not being able to keep up with pent-up demand for mobile device services.

Other factors also contributed to the deterioration of network quality including the limited access to continuous power supply, vandalism, and multiple taxes and levies.

Further, the connectivity intelligence firm said the NCC and the government took a tough stand against operators for failing to meet QoS obligations or delaying tax payments, resulting in significant fines between 2012 and 2016.

It pointed out that the NCC has started adopting less punitive measures against operators recently and being more actively engaged with them on QoS issues, following the South African model. The insight said the government also reversed its decision to impose a five per cent excise duty on telecoms services in 2023, stressing that these measures should somewhat help operators weather the current challenging macroeconomic climate.

Ookla comments: “Government and policy intervention is critical in supporting 4G networks rollout in Africa; operators need support amid the challenging macroeconomic, operating conditions, and shrinking consumer disposable income.

“Spectrum availability is crucial to improve network performance and coverage to meet growing data demand. Public authorities can encourage efficient spectrum usage by freeing up legacy bands, re-farming existing ones, and adopting technology-neutral spectrum licensing.”

Lead Industry Analyst at Ookla, covering the Middle East and Africa region, Karim Yaici, explained how the review was conducted: “We used Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index to identify African countries that have consistently improved their mobile speed ranking.