By Clifford Agugoesi, Editor-in-Chief
Although desirable, going by indications from many quarters in the polity, Nigeria is not presently adequately prepared and, therefore, cannot proceed with nationwide electronic transmission of electoral results, telecommunications sector regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC) has said. To read the regulator’s lips accurately, however, the transmission of results could be carried out where the umpires verdict reads “adequately prepared”. So far, although 50.3 per cent of the poling units surveyed were covered by 2G and 3G connectivity, sadly, this is not adequate for seamless transmission of results nationwide except the execise is targeted at the units with adequate 3G connectivity.
Cyber Era NG can report authoritatively that these facts became precipitate July 16, 2021, when
officials of the Commission appeared before the Lower Chamber of the National Assembly-the House of Representatives, to advise it on the suitability or otherwise of the use of electronic devices for the transmission of election results in the country as part of its ongoing discussion as being provided for in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
An advisory from the Public Affairs Department(PAD)of the Commission, earlier sighted by Cyber Era NG, says the House had, on Thursday, July 15, 2021, invited the NCC to brief it on the nation’s network coverage before continuing debate on the contentious provision of electronic transmission of results during elections.
Nigerian Communications Commission was represented before the House members by the Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, NCC, Engr. Ubale Maska and the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Adeleke Adewolu, respectively.
Maska, who spoke on behalf of the team, told the legislators that less than 50 per cent of the country enjoyed 3G Internet coverage for which electronic transmission of results could rely on.
According to him, as at 2018, when the Commission carried out a survey, 109,000 polling units of the country’s 119,000 polling units were covered by some form of connectivity. Maska said the surveyed polling unit areas were covered mostly by the 3G and 2G networks, which represented about 50.3 per cent of the entire country adding about 49.7 per cent of the national spread did not have Internet coverage, which would be required for real-time electronic transmission of electoral results. The Commission did not say what percentage of the areas were covered individually by 2G and 3G.
According to figures released by NCC, as at 4Q 2019, 2G coverage in Nigeria stood at 89.8 per cent while 3G coverage in Nigeria stood at 74.2 per cent.
As at the Q4 of 2019, however, though 4G coverage is available to 37 per cent of the population.
When asked if 2G technology could be used for electronic transmission of results, Maska hesitated saying he wished the electoral umpire INEC were around to answer, insisting only 3G could transmit results effectively.