Universal/Rural Access Moves Forward in Nigeria

Bauchi, Nigeria state government executives attend a computer skills training session held at a community resource center supported by USAID and the State Dept.'s Education for Development and Democracy Initiative Nigerians are plagued by lack of access to affordable telephones, especially in rural areas. To resolve this problem, dot-GOV, through the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA), is helping support policy development and implementation of a regulatory framework for private sector-driven telecommunications systems in rural and underserved areas.

dot-GOV granted $40,000 to NTCA to provide technical assistance to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) (http://www.ncc.gov.ng/index6_e.htm) . This dot-GOV grant is supplemented by an approximately $26,000 in-kind contribution from NTCA. Logistical and in-kind support is also being provided by the NCC, and by the Ministry of Communications (MoC), Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN).

Implementing Nigeria's Universal/Rural Access Strategy
NTCA's work is carrying the FGN's Universal/Rural Access Strategy forward to implementation. A major achievement thus far has been passage of the Communications Act of 2003, signed into law by Nigerian President Obasanjo on 8 July 2003. NCTA is working hand in hand with regulators and the Ministry in implementing the law, which places the NCC on a firm legal footing, sets forth a new structure for the NCC, makes policy declarations in support of expedited deployment of telecommunications infrastructure and services, and addresses universal service, consumer protection, and the quality of service standards for telecom operators.

Importantly, the new act provides statutory authorization, an institutional framework, and financing mechanisms for a universal service fund and agency, in line with NTCA recommendations made earlier and adopted by the NCC (see NCC's Web Site). One of the outcomes will be greater accountability and transparency of the NCC through institutionalization of best practices.

Ongoing Technical Assistance to the Nigerian Communications Commission
NTCA is currently engaged in consultation with the NCC, MoC, stakeholder organizations and NGOs, and local event planners to begin the series of public workshops funded by the DOT-GOV grant. The first round of workshops will take place in each of three different regions.

NTCA is also working on digitization and web publication of the new Communications Bill, and updating the NCC website. One of the primary obstacles to public education on almost any policy topic in Nigeria is the lack of availability of primary source material, such as laws and regulations. Building on NTCA's earlier success in digitizing an unreleased version of the Communications Bill, they will soon make the official (executed and gazetted) version of the act publicly available in digital format.

As well, NTCA is working with the NCC to update relevant web pages on their website, which may include the digital version of the new law on the website, making it available to the public.

NTCA's work with the NCC is enhancing USAID/Nigeria's strategic plans to alleviate rural poverty, promote market-oriented reforms and revive economic growth by increasing involvement of the private sector and of communities and NGOs in the telecom sector.

The Nigerian Telecommunications Policy Pilot Project-I is funded by USAID/EGAT/EIT (under the dot-GOV Leader Award No. GDG-A-00-01-00009-00).

For More Information, Contact:
Sarah Tisch, Ph.D.
Chief-of-Party, dot-GOV
Internews Network
Tel: 202 833-5740 x 203

Brian Mitchell
Senior International Projects Officer, International Projects
National Telecommunications Cooperative Association
Tel: 703-351-2008

Related Resource Partners
Related DOT-COM Activity
Nigerian Communications Commission Universal/Rural Access Initiative and Community Telecommunication
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Core funding for the DOT-COM Alliance is provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture & Trade, Office of Infrastructure and Engineering (EGAT/OI&E), Office of Education (EGAT/ED), and Office of Women in Development (EGAT/WID), under the terms of Award numbers: GDG-A-00-01-00009-00, dot-GOV; GDG-A-00-01-00014-00, dot-ORG; GDG-A-00-01-00011-00, dot-EDU.
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