In its bid to bridge the connectivity gap between urban and rural areas, the largest telecommunications by subscriber number in Nigeria, MTN, said it would be extending telecommunications coverage to millions of Nigerians living in underserved and unserved communities nationwide through its rural telephony programme.
While noting that over 20 million Nigerians live in areas with limited or no coverage, MTN said it is working to change that and get all rural dwellers connected. Through the rural telephony programme, which it kicked off last year, the telecom operator said it has identified over 3,000 locations across the country for a phased rollout over three years.
“Thus far, 583 live rural sites have been installed nationwide; more than half of which were installed in 2020 to connect communities such as Kurba, Agbiyi Umuede, Tobolo, Opaha, Tudun Faila, Oguru Uzo Uwani, and Sarkin Kaya Rini. Going forward, MTN plans to install more than 1,000 new sites each year in the next few years to cover all the identified locations,” the company stated. To achieve this ambitious goal, MTN has been working with technology partners.
Together, they are deploying infrastructure that will accelerate connectivity and aid the consistent rollout of low-cost connectivity solutions in these areas that have non-existence or limited network coverage and broadband services. Speaking on this initiative, Mazen Mroue, Chief Operating Officer, MTN Nigeria, said: “Our core belief is that everyone deserves the benefits of modern, connected life.
It is driven by an understanding of the potential impact of connectivity on the socioeconomic outcomes of individuals, communities, and the country as a whole. This belief drives our rural expansion goals and fuels our commitment to continue pushing until everyone is connected.” MTN Nigeria continues to invest significantly in expanding existing capacity and installing new technologies; thus advancing digital inclusion.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had earlier disclosed that there were still some 114 access gaps, with about 30 million Nigerians without basic telephony service. This is in spite of the geometric growth in the number of mobile subscriptions in the country. As of November 2020, Nigeria had 207.5 million active subscriptions across the four mobile networks.