Niger Telecoms Expands Connectivity to Rural Areas with 16 New Sites

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– Niger Telecoms expands connectivity to rural areas with 16 new sites
– What Nigerian digital lenders can learn from the informal sector
– Nigeria to launch Nigerium, its blockchain

**Niger Telecoms Expands Connectivity to Rural Areas with 16 New Sites**

Niger Telecoms, the country’s main telecom provider, has launched a significant project to boost connectivity nationwide, especially in rural areas that lack access. They just finished setting up 16 new sites in the Maradi region on July 1, 2024, as part of their expansion plans.

The project will roll out in phases, starting with installing advanced equipment and ensuring everything works smoothly for local communities to get mobile services.

They’ve already set up pylons, built solar fields, completed civil engineering, and put up fencing for security around each site. This ensures the network stays stable and reliable in the long run.

Created in 2016 from a merger, Niger Telecoms aims to cover more of the country under its national program for better telecom coverage.

Currently, they cover about half of Niger’s area and serve around 60% of the population. With mobile and internet penetration at 65% and 32% respectively, they plan to connect even more people, focusing on expanding mobile services. Their goal is to reach all corners of Niger, including the most remote areas, as part of their mission to improve national connectivity.

**Nigeria to Launch Nigerium, its Blockchain**

Blockchain technology – latest tech trends in Africa. Nigeria loves announcing plans left and right, but seeing them happen? That’s another story, right?

Remember last week when I told you about the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) planning to set up blockchain research centers across Nigeria?

Well, now they’ve unveiled another plan: they’re looking into creating their own blockchain called Nigerium. Why? To boost data security and make Nigeria more independent.

The University of Hertfordshire Law School group, led by Chanu Kuppuswamy, believes it’s vital for Nigeria to develop its own blockchain. They argue this would prevent foreign developers from controlling Nigeria’s data and interests, unlike platforms like Ethereum, which are managed abroad.

They also stress the need for a “data embassy” outside Nigeria to safeguard data in case of emergencies, regulated by Nigerian laws in partnership with other countries for security.

But you remember eNaira? Nigeria launched the digital currency in 2021 using Hyperledger Fabric, but getting people to use it has been a real challenge.

Besides, Nigeria has clamped down hard on crypto rules, causing issues for service providers. There’s been legal trouble with Binance, blaming them for currency problems. Now, KuCoin’s slapping a 7.5% VAT on crypto trades due to new Nigerian regulations.

Anyways, as usual, I’ll just keep watching out for the new blockchain technology in Nigeria.

**What Nigerian Digital Lenders Can Learn from the Informal Sector**

There are over 41 million micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria, powering 60% of the country’s jobs. Despite their crucial role, accessing credit to grow remains a huge challenge.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has tried to boost MSME lending, but structural hurdles persist. A survey found less than 6% of MSMEs get financing, despite 40% having bank relationships, mainly due to poor data.

“There’s not enough data to properly assess them for a loan,” says Adedapo Sobayo, CTO at Moni.

“You need alternative data sources to understand their economics for accurate loans.”

Collateral is rare, with only 10% earning above ₦500,000 monthly. Recovering loans is tough too, with defaulters facing few penalties.

Fintechs charge high rates due to risks, while banks often avoid lending altogether. But to boost economic activity, loans must become easier and safer. The informal sector, where lending thrives through social networks, offers clues.

Explore how Nigerian digital lenders can learn from the informal sector in Chimgozirim’s latest story.

**In Case You Missed It**

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