Nigeria was among the early countries to initiate a reform programme in the telecommunications sector. The first such action was the establishment of Nitel following the merger of Nigeria External Telecommunications Company and the telecommunications component within the Department of Posts and Telecommunications in 1985. The government intended to rationalise all national telecommunications planning under one organisation.
In November 1992, the government established an independent regulator – Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC). The government mandated NCC to establish and foster an environment that will facilitate the participation of the private sector to increase and expand the extremely poor existing infrastructure.
This has not been successful, as telecommunications operates within the economic parameters that were affected by existing socioeconomic climate. In the recent past, the government has issued a new policy framework and set the following sector targets:
- Increase telecommunication, growth rate to an annual minimum of 13.5% such that 10% of the rural communities are served in the short term, 30% in the medium term and 60% in the long term;
- Achieve a teledensity of 1.5 by 2001 by installing 1.5 million lines and 1.2 million mobile telephone lines. Install 8 million fixed lines by 2005; and
- Ensure that in the medium term, telephones are within 5 kilometres walking distance in stead of the current 50 kilometres.
Implementation of these programmes presents huge investment opportunities in supply of infrastructure as well as provision of services. Other opportunities include the local manufacture of equipment that the government will support in a bid to create jobs and enhance skill transfer.