The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said damage made to telecommunication infrastructure in some parts of the country slows down the Federal Government’s efforts to achieve the 30 percent broadband penetration by end of 2018.
The NCC Head of Zonal Operations, Miss Helen Obi, said this yesterday at a one-day Sensitization Programme on the Protection of Telecommunications Infrastructure in Minna, Niger state.
Miss Obi said telecom infrastructure served all citizens beneficially and should be protected in order to fast-track broadband penetration across the country.
She said the infrastructure is a critical national infrastructure and damage to it is a grievous offence that attracts heavy punishment.
“Tampering with these infrastructure compromises the efforts of government to meet the 30percent broadband penetration target for 2018’’, she said.
She said so far NCC had achieved 22 percent broadband penetration and hoped to reach 30 percent target by year end.
‘’Therefore the need to sensitise the stakeholders on not allowing the destruction so that it could the purpose that it was meant to serve which was to ensure there was access and penetration of telecom services’’, she said.
Miss Obi however said poor access to telecom services could also be caused by non-standardized telecom equipment this she said the commission was also engaging stakeholders on.
Dr Lawal Bello of the Departnent Technical Standards and Network Integrity(TSNI) said the industry had continued to lose sums of money and services as a result of damage to telecom infrastructure.
He said the spate of damage to telecom infrastructure across the country had resulted in slowing down the growth of the services.
Bello outlined some of the challenges facing the sector as willful damage of telecom infrastructure in order to extort money from service providers.
Local communities or individuals barring technical staff of the service providers from installing equipment or carrying out repair on existing systems.
He said criminal vandalism of infrastructure, diesel theft and digging up of cables for sale in the black market among others.
Bello said the NCC on its part had been using various avenue such as the Consumer Outreach Program me, Telecom Consumer Parliament to sensitize people.
He called for the speedy passing of the bill of Telecom Infrastructure and the need to declare it a national asset.
Lawal added that the protection of telecom infrastructure was not only NCC’s responsibility or security agencies but of all patriotic citizens.
Mr Abubakar Salisu, Permanent Secretary Human Resources, Office of the Head of Service, Niger State called on NCC to give incentives to states that have less causes of damage to telecom facilities.
According to him, this would encourage the states to do more and make others to follow suit.