29 November 2012

Nigeria: MainOne Blames Low Broadband Penetration On Weak Demand

General Counsel, MainOne Cable Company, Kazeem Oladepo, has blamed the low broadband penetration in the country on weak demand for broadband capacities by Nigerians.

Oladepo, who spoke with THISDAY in an interview in Lagos recently, said MainOne and other cable companies brought a lot of broadband capacities to Nigeria since 2010, and were able to crash cost of broadband for the whole sale market, but regretted that the impact of the availability of broadband capacity was yet to be felt at the retail level, blaming the situation on weak demand for retail broadband services across the country.

According to him, majority of Nigerians surf the internet in their work places, while others patronise cybercafés. He encouraged Nigerians to be more involved in internet activities that will drive personal businesses.

He equally called on the federal, state and local governments to put all their activities online in order to engage Nigerians on the use of internet.

"Government must put all its services online, such that for anybody to access government information, the person must go online. For any civil servant to fill government form, the person goes online. By doing that, government would create demand for broadband access among Nigerians," he said.

Asked for his professional advice on what government must do to succeed in her campaign for foreign investment in broadband penetration in the country, Oladepo said "there are two basic issues to broadband penetration and they include access and demand. While access has to do with the level of the infrastructure rollout that will enable everyone have access to broadband, demand in itself depends on the need for broadband by the citizens, which has to do with creating awareness on the part of the citizens in order to expose them to the importance of broadband."

According to him, in some far areas of the country, access remained an issue because there are no facilities that would carry broadband capacities to such areas.

"So for government to achieve broadband penetration, it must first sensitise its citizens on the need to use internet, and for government to achieve this, government must put all its services online, such that for anybody to access government information, the person must go online. For any civil servant to fill government form, the person goes online," he said.

He added that if an operator spends so much money in taking broadband capacities to some parts of the country where the demand is low, then it will be bad business for the operator and will be discouraged to provide access to other parts of the country where demand is also low. Government must therefore first address the issue of demand and access to broadband, before carrying out her campaign on broadband penetration.

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