The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta has disclosed that over 35 million Nigerians have no access to telecommunications services and by implication, lack access to any form of digital financial services.
Danbatta, who stated this while receiving a team from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the Foundation’s Consultants, Glenbrooks Partners, also noted that this condition is undermining financial inclusion in Nigeria.
This condition, he noted, is caused by the inadequacy of both wireless and fibre connectivity infrastructure, stressing that Nigeria needs to do more investment in both fixed and wireless infrastructure to enable the country to reach its target of at least 80 percent level of financial inclusion in about four years.
While revealing that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has issued Mobile Money Payment Services license to some mobile network operators to enable them to undertake mobile financial transaction services, the former University Don believes that access to telecom services by distant, isolated, unserved and underserved communities will enable more citizens to embrace digital financial culture.
He also advocated renewed greater cooperation and collaboration between the banking and telecommunications sectors to harmonise the cost of transactions for financial services in an equitable manner.
Meanwhile, Abiodun Jagun of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who led the delegation comprising Elizabeth Mcquerry of Glenbrook Partners as well as Ifeanyi Monye and Charles Ifedi, who are consultants to Glenbrook, informed the EVC that the Foundation requested for the meeting with others to deepen the partnership between the Foundation and the Federal Government of Nigeria to increase citizens’ access to financial resources.
Jagun said the discussion with the Commission is so important because it regulates the telecom sector and it is already addressing some infrastructure challenges, which is central to connectivity and the embrace of digital culture and inclusive access to financial resources by citizens.
“Understanding the strides made by the Commission, as well as the challenges it faces, will help the Foundation to know the nature of collaboration and support to offer without distorting or disrupting the market,” she said.
She added that the visit and the discussions are meant to ensure that the philanthropic opportunities offered by BMGF are supportive and complementary to the digital ecosystem.