Nigeria: Parliament probes USPF expenditures

By : Samira Njoya

Date : jeudi, 11 mai 2023 10:34

Despite significant investment by the government in mobile telecommunications services, a significant portion of Nigeria's population still lacks access to them. Parliament is seeking answers regarding the reasons behind this delay.

The Nigerian House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 9, launched an inquiry to determine why the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has failed to promote the widespread availability and use of mobile telecommunication services throughout the country, especially in rural areas.

The investigation also seeks to question the use of the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), which was established by the federal government to facilitate the achievement of the universal service objectives in rural, unserved, and underserved areas.

 “It is therefore critical to note that it is not only people residing in urban areas that have the right to telecommunications, consideration should be extended to rural dwellers. [...] The NCC as the regulator needs to ensure proactiveness in ensuring qualitative and efficient services are offered by the telecommunication operators,” said Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of Parliament, at the first public hearing organized by the ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives.

According to NCC figures, Nigeria had 227.1 million mobile subscribers as of February 2023.  While this figure represents a penetration rate of around 110 percent, the actual numbers are lower because some subscribers have multiple SIM cards. The NCC estimates that about 27 million Nigerians do not have access to mobile telecommunications services.

So, for three days, NCC officials will be questioned about the 1,014 contracts funded through the USPF, including a digital library project that cost over NGN2 billion ($4.3 million).

Samira Njoya


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