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FG sets up committee for new National Broadband Plan 2020-2025

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Abuja
17 December 2019   |   3:03 am
The Federal Government has inaugurated a committee to develop a new National Broadband Plan 2020-2025, to help reposition the country for a digital economy.

As broadband penetration hits 37 per cent

The Federal Government has inaugurated a committee to develop a new National Broadband Plan 2020-2025, to help reposition the country for a digital economy.

This followed the expiration of the previous National Broadband Plan in 2018.

The committee is co-chaired by the Chief Executive Officer, MainOne, Funke Opeke, and the former Executive Commissioner in the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), Bashir Gwandu.

This comes as Nigeria is said to have 37 per cent broadband penetration.

Speaking at the inauguration, yesterday, in Abuja, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, admitted that Nigeria has a problem of broadband penetration.

He noted that the digital economy currently valued at $11.5trillion is strategically dominating the world’s financial system, and makeup approximately 16 per cent of the global economy, according to Oxford economy.

Quoting the World Economic Forum, the minister observed that by 2022, about 60 per cent of the world economy would be digitalised, while by 2030; almost 85 per cent would be at digital.

He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari last month launched a digital economy policy for Nigeria, which has eight pillars, including developmental regulation, digital literacy and skills, solid infrastructure, service infrastructure, digital services development and promotion, soft infrastructure, digital society and emerging technologies, and indigenous content.

He said: “This committee that converges here is going to deliberate on one pillar that is very strategic among the eight, and at the same time, the success of the remaining seven depends on the success of this one. Solid infrastructure accommodates broadband and data centre, this is key because all other pillars rely on this very important one, and I think the work of the committee is going to address significantly one of the most important pillars. This will go a long way in supporting the National Digital Economy policy and strategy for the government of Nigeria. All the states and local government also have a role to play to make it very successful,” he added.
Also speaking, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, observed that the International telecommunication Union (ITU), recognised that in the 21st Century, broadband infrastructure is basic, and will ensure that people around the world have access to equitable and affordable broadband wherever they are and whatever the circumstances they are in.
Danbatta noted that broadband has the ability to deliver healthcare, best quality education even to generations unborn, the ability to streamline transportation, meet up with social development goals (SDGs), and the ability to transform the economy into a digital one. 

In her response, the Chairperson of the Committee, Opeke, said the target is to achieve at least 65-70 per cent broadband penetration across Nigeria by 2025. She said broadband is critical, and Nigeria cannot be left behind, while Nigerians in the rural areas should be at the centre of the new broadband plan, which will help create jobs.

She said, “The honourable minister has set the goal, and I believe the NCC is in agreement. It is for us to look at what was done during the period of the last committee, look at what the issues and challenges are that still exist, and come up with a plan that allows us to achieve the set objectives. I believe the objective is achievable with sincerity of purpose and with hard work for these are critical services and infrastructure that we need to bring to all Nigerians and we’re optimistic that we can accomplish that goal.”

Opeke noted that a lot of work needs to be done on fixed infrastructure, adding that the reality is that mobile technologies are also progressing quite fast to deliver very capable services to people.