Integra’s ICT team completed an essential strategic consulting assignment with a unit of the Nigeria Communications Commissions called the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), which focused 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, an entire 40 million people (25% of the country’s population) live in an area where it is impossible 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, eager to close this access gap, retained Integra to support the design and launch of a new strategy. Their idea was 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. The Integra team built a model incorporating geospatial analysis, then designed an entire program incorporating several of these projects each year. Based on the program Integra designed, USPF provided connectivity to three million people in the first year.  At that rate, the access gap will be fully closed in a little over a decade.  The Cluster Strategy was officially launched at a meeting in Lagos, Nigeria, in January 2015.

Integra worked with the Nigerian Communications Commission and the Universal Service Provisioning Fund (USPF) to analyze data from its gap analysis identifying populations not served by telecommunications services. The completed study identified the locations of 36.8 million people without commercially viable services. The team advised USPF on implementing a Cluster Strategy for selecting investments in the extension of a fiber optic cable build-out program (B-TRAIN) begun under an earlier assignment carried out by Integra. Advised USPF on prioritizing investments among the clusters and proposed the procurement method for partnering with private sector network operators. This work has been to contract with four network operators to build network extensions to unserved clusters—the program connected approximately 4.7 million people at a subsidy of 22 percent of total CapEx.

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