By Jessica Dogo
Abuja – The Federal Government on Thursday inaugurated a Broadband Implementation Steering Committee (BISC), to accelerate the attainment of the country’s broadband penetration to 70 per cent by 2025.
Dr Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, while inaugurating the committee in Abuja, said the current 40.18 per cent penetration should be raised to improve the contribution of the sector to the nation’s GDP.
“If you look at the contribution of technology to our GDP, what we have achieved in the first quarter of 2020 is unprecedented, the contribution is 14.07 per cent.
“So this is a clear indication that the more there is proper penetration, the more the nation’s GDP will increase.
“Part of the plan is that we are targeting at least 90 per cent of our population in Nigeria to have access to broadband, so we are targeting 70 per cent penetration by 2025,” he said.
The minister said before now, the broadband penetration was 31 per cent but based on the recent report released by the NCC, the broadband penetration had now increased to 40.18 per cent.
According to him, it represents almost 10 per cent penetration in less than a year.
He explained that the new Broadband Plan, 2020-2025, was designed to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria at a minimum of 25Mbps in urban areas, and 10Mbps in rural areas.
Pantami said the aim was to ensure effective coverage of at least 90 per cent of the population by 2025 at a price not more than N390:00 per 1GB of data (i.e. two per cent of median income or one per cent of minimum wage).
According to the Minister, the plan is being tailored in line with the pledge by President Muhammadu Buhari to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
“The plan will accelerate the aspiration of the country, as it leap frogs with the rest of the developed world toward the widespread deployment of 5G technologies, even while it is yet to achieve significant 4G coverage and adoption.
“With the 14.7 per cent contribution to the nation’s GDP, Nigerian government believes that rapid rollout of broadband services will address various socio-economic challenges faced by the country.
“Some of the challenges include: to grow its economy, create jobs, rapidly expand the tax base, and improve digital literacy and educational standards,” he said
He added that the current plan was to ensure the deployment of nationwide fibre coverage to reach all state capitals and a point of presence in at least 90 per cent of local government headquarters.
According to him, it also targeted to reach tertiary institutions, major hospitals in each state and 60 per cent of base stations by 2025 at statutory rates of N145 per meter for Right of Way (RoW).
He said that the ministry’s engagement with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum had inspired several state governments to adopt the N145 per meter and a few of these states had waived the fee altogether.
“President Buhari has also directed the security agencies to protect all critical national infrastructure,” he said
On Jobs creation, Pantami said that the fibre to the Home Council Europe, a 25 million EUR investment in information and communications technology, including smart grid and broadband, would create or retain 700,000 jobs.
The minister noted that out of the figure 360,000 would be small business jobs.
He said that higher standard of living and socio-economic development had caused the growth of e-health, e-education and e-government, among others.
He, however, mandated the committee to ensure effective monitoring and implementation of the plan.
“You are expected to adopt the Broadband Plan as your working manual; you should become very familiar with the 100-page document.
“I believe that a combination of the knowledge of its content and your subject matter expertise will enable you to provide a catalyst for innovative solutions to the implementation of the Plan.
“I often state that no Policy or Plan can implement itself.
“As such, it is critical to ensure that an adequate level of monitoring and feedback are integrated into your activities,” he said.
In his remarks, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), thanked the Minister for putting the committee together and urged it to work in synergy with other related agencies.
The Chairman of the Committee, Mr Ubale Maska, who is also the Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, NCC, explained that broadband was the centre of any digital economy of a country.
“We are humbled to be members of the implementation committee responsible for steering the National Broadband Plan (NBBP).
“We express our commitment to bring to bear our wealth of experience for the successful implementation of the plan,” he said.
Other dignitaries at the occasion includes Mr Kashifu Inuwa, the Director General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Prof. Mohammed Abubakar, the Managing Director of Galaxy Backbone.