India to loan Nigeria $100 million to boost rural internet penetration
The Indian government has agreed to provide a loan of $100 million to Nigeria to help the country achieve its goal of universal internet coverage.
The loan amount, according to a Devdiscourse report, will be arranged by the EXIM Bank of India and was sought by the Nigerian government in January to strengthen network connectivity in the country. To accomplish this, the government of the West African nation plans to deploy solar-based cellular phone sites once internet connection penetrates into the rural reaches of the country.
According to a report by The Guardian, officials in the Nigerian ministry, who are privy to the details of the project, said at least 1,000 solar-based phone locations would be built within a year once the deal was inked. The ultimate aim is to provide affordable telephone services to all rural communities and also ensure that the snags and impediments experienced in the urban areas are reduced.
It was reportedly possible to arrange for the huge amount in such a short notice due to the close ties between the India High Commission in the African nation and Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Communications.
Alhaji Adebayo Shittu, who had vowed 70 percent broadband penetration in the country by the year 2021, facilitated the deal with India. Shittu revealed in February that the Nigerian government wanted to fast-track the process of implementation of the National Broadband Roadmap.
He said at a conference organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria: “I am optimistic that if we put all the current efforts together, in another two years, we should be able to attain 70 per cent. My ambition is two years rather than the five years being postulated.”
He added that the mast currently being used by telecom operators in the country was very expensive. Moreover, it works on electricity, which is not available in the remote reaches of the country. Therefore, the government needs to shift focus to setting up solar-based masts. These, apart from being affordable, will also be accessible to all operators, instead of requiring individual operators to lay their own cables.