Some 72 percent of Nigerians living in rural areas lack access to telephone services within a kilometre “in spite of the phantom successes recorded in the Nigerian telecoms sector”, a survey reveals.
According to the report by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigeria’s communications regulatory body, rural Nigerians often have to cover a distance of nearly one kilometre to make calls, while about 23 percent travel about five kilometres to gain access to telephone service reception.
The report also noted that about 5 percent of Nigerian rural dwellers cover 10 kilometres or more to use telephone services. The commission, however, stated that despite the report showing the need for the telecoms companies to expand their coverage to the rural communities, it still indicates an improvement in telecoms coverage compared to 2004.
“In 2004, 68 percent of respondents in rural areas had to travel further than 50km to the nearest telephone location. However, findings from the recent survey indicate that only 0.2 percent of the rural respondents surveyed, travelled to the nearest location, which is about three kilometres to make their calls,” the report stated.
This improvement, the commission said, is coming on the heels of its announcement in September of a total number of 105 million active subscribers across networks and a teledensity of 72.17 percent, compared with the nation’s 400,000 subscribers and a tele-density of 0.04 percent in 2001.
With an estimated population of 160 million Nigerians, it would be expected that the commission’s 105 million active subscribers would show a considerable penetration of voice telephony in rural communities.
Experts are however of the opinion that the 105 million figure may be with regard to active lines rather than subscribers, as many Nigerians have more than one telephone line. The incidence is not related to users’ strategy to allow them to enjoy offers from various networks at the same time, and to remain accessible even when there is disruption in the services of their preferred service provider.