By Ikenna Uwadileke
Abuja – The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu on Thursday in Abuja expressed the ministry’s commitment to attain 70 per cent broadband penetration by 2021.
The minister said this at a post “Nigeria National Broadband Plan 2013 to 2018’’, organised by the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON).
The event had as its theme “Success, Prospects and Challenges’’.
While applauding Federal Government’s efforts in moving from 18 to 31 per cent broadband connectivity between 2015 and 2019, Shittu said that more still needed to be done to attain greater feats.
According to him, within the last three years, we have attained 31 per cent from 18 per cent.
“It might seem laudable and I think it calls for celebration but I think that as a dynamic country such as Nigeria with the huge population and potential, we should really be thinking much higher.
“My belief is that if we put all the current efforts together, in another two years we should be able to attain 70 per cent.
“My ambition is two years rather than the five years that is being postulated,’’ the minister said.
He explained that Nigeria would be redirecting efforts at using solar based masts to increase rural broadband connectivity.
The minister pointed out that the move would be facilitated by the 100 million dollars loan the country intends to access from India.
“The current mast that all the telecom operators use is very expensive to maintain.
“They rely on electricity and we do not have electricity all around the country, so we have a situation where somebody who wants to build a mast of N40 million will also have to acquire 200 KVA generator and fuel it.
“For this reason, we now redirected our efforts at getting solar based mast which would also have 50 kilometres radius so that if you have a land area of 100 kilometres, you will have two masts
“It is cheap to maintain and all operators can depend on it, rather than having the rural operators to construct their own mast or lay their own cables.
“We are doing all of these and I believe that within the next two months we should have an approval from Indian government for work to commence on deploying this to all rural areas in Nigeria,’’ Shittu said.
The minister added that broadband connectivity must be seen as a fundamental right of every Nigerian.
Earlier, the President of ATCON, Mr Olusola Teniola called for increased collaboration among telecommunication companies to create an industry that could attract more investors in the country. (NAN)