Chief of telco regulator says current investment levels not sufficiently adequate to extend coverage, deploy latest technologies

Nigeria’s telco networks require investment of around $136 billion in order to extend coverage and deploy more modern mobile technology, the country’s watchdog said this week.

According to a report by The Nation, Umar Dambatta, CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission, noted that telecoms investment in the country reached $68 billion last year, and the number of connections topped 172 million. That compares to just $60 million and 450,000 connections in 2000. By 2014, investment levels had grown to $32 billion, while connections topped 151 million.

"$68 billion investment in Nigeria is huge, but it is by no means adequate for one of the fastest growing telecommunications markets in the world," he said, in the report.

He claimed that more than 40 million Nigerians still don’t have access to mobile services, and that some areas of the country are still only covered by 2G networks.

Dambatta said that the need for operators to accelerate their infrastructure spending to meet the ever-growing demand for data will require investment levels to double from 2018 over the next decade.

With global telecoms service revenues forecast to reach $2.4 trillion this year, everyone should have an interest in the sector, he said.

"[A] robust telecommunications network is important for economic growth, which is achievable through investment."