Posted by Karen on
Nigeria has one of the largest and fastest growing telecom markets in Africa. The sector attracts considerable foreign investment given the potential for further growth. Far reaching liberalisation has led to hundreds of companies providing all kinds of telecom and value-added services in an independently regulated market. The mobile sector saw triple-digit growth rates five years in a row after competition was introduced. Other than the key mobile network operators, there are a number of additional players operating under a unified licensing regime.
This regime has also boosted the country’s underdeveloped broadband sector. Mobile services using third and fourth generation technologies, as well as WiMAX wireless broadband services, are being rolled out rapidly, backed by new national and international fibre links. After a decade of failed privatisation attempts, the incumbent national telco Nitel and its mobile arm M-Tel are in liquidation, with the NATCOM Consortium acquiring the telco in March 2015 for some $252 million.
Despite the pace of change with Nigeria’s telecom infrastructure, parts of the country remain underdeveloped. In particular, areas in the Muslim north of the country where the Boko Haram group is active have seen considerable disruption to telecom services following the theft and destruction of equipment. The recent election will present additional challenges for the government pressed to measure up against Boko Haram. The incoming president Muhammadu Buhari first came to power in Nigeria in a military coup in December 198.
This ushered in almost two decades of military rule in Nigeria, led by a sequence of Generals each noted for corruption and for formulating decrees which suppressed the press. Buhari’s refusal to accept the election results which brought to power the now outgoing president Goodluck Jonathan led to thousands of his supporters taking to the streets, leaving more than 800 dead. Buhari, as a Muslim, will need to convince a largely Christian south that he can tackle Boko Haram, return the country to peace, and secure a stable environment more suitable for foreign and domestic investment in infrastructure projects.
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