Integra’s ICT team is in the middle of an important strategic consulting assignment with a unit of the Nigeria Communications Commissions called the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), focusing on how to close ICT access gaps in remote areas of the country.
A recent analysis by USPF found that despite the expansion of the mobile network in Nigeria over the last decade, a full 40 million people (25% of the country’s population) live in an area where it is not even possible to get a cellular voice signal. These areas stand to fall further behind as network operators focus their investments on delivering higher quality data to residents of urban centers.
The government of Nigeria is eager to close this access gap, and has retained Integra for the purposes of supporting the design and launch of a new strategy. Their idea is to base the strategy on “clusters,” the USPF’s term for geographically contiguous areas of land that lack voice coverage, regardless of the boundaries of local government areas (LGAs). There are nearly 300 such clusters in Nigeria.
Under USAID’s Global Broadband and Innovations (GBI) Program, Integra defined the types of projects that USPF could implement in these clusters, and showed how they could be tailored based on the individual clusters’ characteristics. We then built a model, incorporating geospatial analysis, that allowed us to design a full program, which incorporates several of these projects each year. Based on the program Integra designed, USPF will be able to provide connectivity to 3 million people in the first year. At this rate, the access gap will be fully closed in little over a decade.
The Cluster Strategy was officially launched at a meeting in Lagos, Nigeria in January 2015. Integra will continue to support Nigeria USPF in the implementation of this project.