NCC targets 80% financial inclusion from fixed, wireless infrastructure investments

Claims 35 million Nigerians lack access to digital financial services
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has stressed the need to urgently increase investment in both fixed and wireless infrastructure to achieve at least 80 per cent level of financial inclusion within the next four years.

This is even as it revealed that about 35 million Nigerians currently lack access to digital financial services because they have no access to telecommunications services.

Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, who made the call at an event to mark the 2022 World Consumer Rights Day in Abuja, observed that lack of access to telecommunications services is a challenge that is attributable to the inadequacy of both wireless and fibre connectivity infrastructure, adding that more citizens will embrace the digital financial culture when they have access to telecoms services in the distant, isolated, unserved, and underserved communities where they dwell.

Danbatta noted that the Commission has licensed the infrastructure companies (Infracos), which are to provide the fibre from landing ports to the hinterland of the country, stressing that a key focus is to provide broadband connectivity, especially in the 774 local government areas in the Country.

He stated that there would be further actions to enable Infracos to commence operations as the Commission recognises that fibre is the long-term solution to the volume of transactions in the financial services sector.

Danbatta noted that digital technology offers Nigeria the opportunity to grow and diversify its economy.

He explained that the broadband plan is designed to deliver 120,000km of fibre, 70 per cent penetration, data download speeds across Nigeria of a minimum of 25mbps in urban areas, and 10mbps in rural areas, with effective coverage available to at least 90 per cent of the population at a price not more than ₦390 per 1GB of data (i.e., 2% of median income or 1% of minimum wage) by end of 2025.

Danbatta pointed out that some consumers must cope with vulnerabilities in using digital financial services as challenges of adapting to digital platforms for transactions are further worsened by unscrupulous people that exploit consumer vulnerabilities for illicit gains.

“All stakeholders have the responsibility to protect consumers against losses on account of their adopting digital platforms; they should enjoy the protection as obtained on the legacy platforms. The National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020 to 2030 adequately addressed ccw3c zthe protection of telecoms consumers against the threats of cybercrime, encouraging them to embrace digital finance and supporting them to contribute to the digital economy.

 “The Commission, committed to fulfilling its mandate and passionate about driving the Digital Economy in Nigeria, has continued to implement initiatives in this regard. Through its Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB), it undertakes constant Consumer Education with a significant part of this effort dedicated to providing information that equips the Consumer to thrive in a world that has embraced digital finance.”

Danbatta said that as part of activities marking the 2022 World Consumer Rights Day, the Commission has finalized arrangements to establish the Telecom Consumer Assistance, Resolution and Enquiries (TELCARE) Desk, at strategic locations across the country to provide information to telecom consumers.

Also speaking, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Adeleke Adewolu, said that this year’s theme, “Fair Digital Finance” is apt and appropriate due to the increasingly high speed of digitisation of financial services has thrown up many challenges for consumers as they navigate the “new” financial services landscape adding that it is the time to address issues that would make access to, and usage of digital financial services safer for the consumer.

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