According to the Presidential Council's calculations, based on the state categories, eight large states with 750km will cost $20,000 per kilometre totalling $120 million. Sixteen medium states with 500km will cost $20,000 per kilometre totalling $160 million. Also, the 12 small states with about 250km will cost $20,000 per kilometre totalling $60 million. This brings the cost of all state rings to $340 million.
While the average cost of building metro fibre (including electronics but excluding RoW charges) in Nigeria is estimated at $60,000 per kilometre. An average state capital (excluding Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt which already have substantial fibre or duct infrastructure) requires 250km of fibre for a metro ringed design. The cost for the 33 state capitals is estimated at $495 million. This brings the total cost of states and state capitals to $795 million.
Need For Cost-Cutting Model
While the rhetoric has ended in Abuja, it is up to our regulators and government to move swiftly and take up the opportunities available to connect the citizenry to the internet and affordable telecommunications services. Mrs. Omobola Johnson, who represented Vice President Namadi Sambo at the forum, said the ministry was championing co-location, cost of roll-out to drive the last mile.
"We're working with the state governments and other government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, to see that just about 10 per cent cost of total deployment of fibre infrastructure is spent on the Right of Way," she said. According to Johnson, "We are working on access and affordability through reduction in taxes and sharing of infrastructures. We need to work on infrastructure sharing for economic of scale."
She acknowledged that the cost of internet in Nigeria was still considered high, noting that by working on cost-cutting model of deployment for the operators, end users will also have access to affordable internet access.
Affordable Internet for Nigerians
One of the most strategic platforms which Nigeria could leverage to fast track internet pervasiveness is by taking active part in the newly launched Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), a coalition to lead policy and regulatory reform and spur action to drive down artificially high internet prices in developing countries. By advocating for open, competitive and innovative broadband markets, A4AI aims to help access prices fall to below five per cent of monthly income worldwide, a target set by the UN Broadband Commission.
According to Dr. Robert Pepper Cisco's vice president of global technology policy who moderated at the Ministerial Panel at the Abuja CTO forum, "One of the most important steps government and business leaders in Africa can take to encourage social and economic transformation is to focus on delivering universal broadband access. I'm looking forward to a robust discussion on how we can accelerate affordable broadband take-up across the continent, so that Africa can truly benefit from the Internet of Everything".
The alliance stems from a collaboration between over 30 members from the private and public sectors of both the developed and developing countries and plans to reach the target set by the United Nations (UN) Broadband Commission to help internet access prices fall below 5 per cent of monthly income worldwide. Reaching this goal could help to connect two-thirds of the world to the internet and make universal access a reality.
Dr. Bitange Ndemo, World Wide Web Foundation honourary chairperson who was at the forum said Nigeria needs to drive down high internet prices. "In Kenya, we saw the number of internet users more than double in a single year after we liberalised markets. Now we need to spark the same revolution on broadband costs and access, not only in my country but around the world," Ndemo said.
The alliance revealed that it planned to start in-country engagements with three to four countries by the end of 2013, expanding to at least twelve countries by the end of 2015. It is expected to produce an annual 'Affordability Report', with the first edition being unveiled in December 2013.
Inventor of the web and founder of the World Wide Web Foundation, Sir Tim Berners-Lee said, "The reason for the alliance is simple - the majority of the world's people are still not online, usually because they can't afford to be. The result of high prices is a widening digital divide that slows progress in vital areas such as health, education and science. Yet with the advent of affordable smartphones, new undersea cables and innovations in wireless spectrum usage, there is simply no good reason for the digital divide to continue.
"The real bottle-neck now is anti-competitive policies and regulations that keep prices unaffordable. The alliance is about removing that barrier and helping as many as possible get online at reasonable cost," he said. It is up to the Nigerian government and its ICT regulators to put its house in order to reduce the prohibitive costs that deny millions of Nigerian from connecting to the affordable ITC services. The time to act is now.