Communication infrastructure is important, in fact, with electricity, they play undeniably crucial roles in economic development. A basic infrastructure. Luckily, it has also been with us in Nigeria for over 100 years. To be precise, telecommunications started in Nigeria in 1886. Good, you may say, but on a faulty foundation. And this is because the colonial administration then was only interested in promoting administration functions than the socio-economic development of the country. Therefore the administration saw the external connection by public telegraph services linking Lagos by sub-marine cable along the West Coast of Africa to Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia and on to England as a more prominent project. Consequently, the total number of telephone lines in Nigeria as at independence in 1960 was only 18,724 and this is for a population estimated at about 40 million. Meaning a tele-density of 0.4 telephone per 1,000 people.

“With the deregulation of the communications industry, 108 approval for licenses have so far been given out for Internet services. Of this number, 48 companies have paid for their licenses. It is hoped that with democracy and the window of opportunity now open to investors in the Nigeria economy, more and more companies will invest in the Nigerian telecommunication industry”

The telephone network then consisted of 121 exchanges out of which 116 were manual types and only five were automatic exchanges. And to correct these anomalies, there have been a number of development plans for expansion and modernization of the telecommunications networks and services since independence. These developmental plans can be categorized into three with the first being a period between independence and 1985. During this period the management of the telecommunication industry was left entirely in the hands of two government agencies. The department of post and Telecommunication (P&T), which was in charge of the internal network and the Nigerian External Telecommunication (Net) Limited, Net was responsible for the external telecommunication services. However, telecommunications development within this period was marked by a lot of shortcomings. There was indeed a remarkable difference between planned targets and their realization.

For instance, the installed switching capacity at the end of 1985 was about 200,000 line. And this was against the planned target about 460,000 line. Consequently, telephone density and penetration remained poor as it translated to one phone line per 440 inhabitants as against the target of one telephone to 100 inhabitant recommended by the International Telecom Union (ITU) for countries performing at five per cent growth rate.

Government in a bid to correct these defects, in January 1985 broke the postal and Telecommunications department into two. With the postal part of the former union being merged with Net limited to form the Nigerian Telecommunications limited, NITEL. The new body was to harmonies the planning and co-ordination for the internal and external telecommunication services., rationalize investments in telecommunications development as well as provide easy access, efficient and affordable services. However, 16 years on, NITEL has failed even in this task. Presently, Nigeria has only 700,000 installed capacity out of which only 400,000 lines are connected. Consequently, it is agreed that Nigeria still lag behind when compared with even less endowed African countries not to talk of the advanced countries. And one of the ways of catching up with the rest of the world is to deregulate the industry. This is what government did in 1992, when by the Decree, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) was created. The main objective of the NCC was to promote fair competition and an efficient market conduct among all players in the industry.

Since the inauguration of the NCC in July 1993, it has set out guidelines for private sector participation in the industry. It has also issued licenses to a number of companies for various telecommunications undertakings. However, NITEL has remained the only basic provider for domestic and international service. And this has had serious effects on the industry in terms of its gross inefficiency, high cost and lack of universal access. For instance, there is only one mobile cellular telephony network provided by the Nigeria Mobile Telecommunication Limited (M-Tel).

This cellular mobile network covers three areas of the country with a total capacity of 22,500 lines and are fully loaded. This is compounded by the fact that there is only one mobile switching centre (MSC) in each of the three areas. In the same vein, there are a total of 152 routes with 312 repeater stations spread across the country.

The main trunk routes have been digitized and operate in the 140 to 155 mbls configuration. Government has also promised the digitization of others in the planned south Atlantic Telecommunication/ West African submarine Cable (SAT3/WASC) project. The project is planned to link Africa with Europe and Asia and it is to be financed by a consortium of International telecommunication operators in Africa, Europe and Asia.

On the provision of Internet Services, the Nigerian government has also made efforts with an initial capacity of 5,500 points starting with Lagos as the main point of presence (POP) with 3,000 ports. However, this can only be interpreted to show that less than five per cent of Nigerians have access to the Internet. According to a report from the United Nations, the total Internet connectivity in Africa is about 50,000 people and more than 80 per cent of this number is in South Africa. Only 9,000 of this figure are Nigerians. However with the deregulation of the telecommunications industry, 108 approval for licenses have so far been given out. Of this number, 48 companies have paid for their licenses.

It is hoped that with democracy and the window of opportunity now open to investors in the Nigeria economy, more and more companies will invest in the Nigerian telecommunications industry.

“culled from the internet”


Filed under Uncategorized


  1. Sam Fletcher

    The Commonwealth ICT Summit
    The 6th annual CTO Forum 2008:

    6th – 10th October 2008, Abuja, Nigeria
    Hosted by: the Ministry of Communications, Nigeria

    Dear Joseph,

    The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation together with the Ministry of Communications, Nigeria is organizing ”The Commonwealth ICT Summit 2008”, in Abuja, Nigeria, 6th-10th October. We would like to encourage you to take part in this crucial event, to not only share your experiences but to effectively showcase your products and services.

    Event: Commonwealth ICT Summit 2008
    Venue: Hilton Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria
    Date: 6-10th October 2008
    Target: Telecom, Broadcasting & ICT stakeholders from the Commonwealth and beyond
    Reason: To create the only platform for peers in the industry to brainstorm on how to take advantage of the business prospects that exist within Africa (Need to re-word this)

    Commonwealth ICT Summit 2008 is organized by the CTO and hosted by Nigeria’s Ministry of Communications with a view to bringing key ICT stakeholders together to advance ICT in the Commonwealth and beyond.

    With high business prospects in Africa for mobile and wireless network operators, telecom and broadband service providers, handset manufacturers, portal and network security infrastructural developers, digital broadcasting equipment manufacturers, as well as set-up facilitators and regulators, the summit seeks to offer a unique opportunity for ICT stakeholders to expand in the African region. Private sector organisations are hereby presented with a very cost effective window to exhibit their latest products, services and highlight their strategies for ICT development in the Commonwealth to the international senior level delegation from around the world.

    You are invited to exhibit and take advantage of the CTO bringing together senior ICT decision makers and industry leaders.

    The Commonwealth ICT Summit will enable you to meet key decision makers and negotiate lucrative contracts.

    Sign up as an exhibitor before the event brochure is printed and you will receive massive discounts and extensive exposure.

    For details on exhibition information and registration please respond through my e-mail address provided.

  2. la4la1

    We hope so!thanks for the info.

  3. Hi,
    Got fascinated by your blog and the writeup on communications and IT in Nigeria.
    I will like to share my experience as the President of the Nigeria High tech Women at the ICT summit coming up in october in abuja.
    As a researcher also at the National Centre for Technology Management (NACETEM) , OAU Ife, i will like to share some empirical based research outcomes on some works done on the IT and telecoms policy of Nigeria.

  4. bob fash

    Good write-up,
    I believe that ICT can really be used for development in Nigeria by supporting it in schools. ICT clubs should be encouraged and supported for the future of the nation.
    As an advocate of ICT4D and the President of ICT Club The Polytechnic Ibadan this writeup has educated me more.

    Lets support ICT in schools

  5. belema kiri

    sure it realy helped me with my school work it a great work from a brother

  6. Im highly interested in ict and i hope to go such business.i also intend to write a research project on telem. Deregulation in nigeria.hope to hear from you.thanks.

  7. Pingback: josephekwu in 2010 | Josephekwu’s Weblog

  8. Uchenna

    Nice write up. Most Nigerian youths irrespective of their disciplines are now exploring the ict sector as a more promising alternative to securing a better future.

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