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Buhari urged to complete national broadband plan implementation


Telecom InfrastructureTHE Muhammed Buhari led administration that will take over governance of the country on Friday, have been told to ensure full implementation of the National Broadband Plan (NBP), initiated by the out-going President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration if Nigeria’s digital economy target must be realised.

This was the submission of experts, including the Managing Director, Smile Communications Nigeria Limited, Michiel Buitelaar, at the sixth yearly Pan-African 1:1 Investor Conference organized by Renaissance Capital in Lagos, recently.

Jonathan’s administration had in 2012, through the Ministry of Communications Technology set up a National Broadband Council, which came up with the National Broadband Plan (NBP).

The NBP targets five-fold increase in Internet penetration and 30 per cent broadband penetration by 2018. Nigeria currently has eight per cent broadband penetration.

Buitelaar said that leveraging digital economy should be regarded as a sine qua non in sustaining the economy by the incoming administration led by Muhammed Buhari.

The Smile MD identified infrastructural advancement as overriding factor for the immediate expansion of sectors such as agriculture, transportation, banking & finance, health-care/medicine, and education.

He said that Smile Communications aligned itself with the key statistics expected for the Nigerian Digital Economy by 2018 as released by the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology, especially for the emergence of an industry that is less fragmented.

The Smile MD said: “There are various advantages the digital economic providers have over the traditional. However, to make this happen faster, there are catalysts required for it to even drive other sectors outside the ICT.

Digital economy will be the driver of the agricultural, transport, health-care/medicine, education, banking and finance, among others.

In our company, for instance, we are talking to companies in those sectors and one recently said that ‘the software is eating the world’.

“We do believe the new digital ICT will influence other sectors. For example, in agriculture; like I have seen in other countries, the efficiency and productivity is very likely to explode once all the digital economy has entered into their arena. It is also our expectation that the impact will become more pronounced within the next ten years.

For emphasis sake, sectors like agricultural, transport, health-care/medicine, education, commerce, in fact, the whole move of digitization will have impact on the emerging economy and Nigeria’s economy is well positioned to make their journey better than many others.”

Specifically on expected broadband impact on digital economy, Buitelaar extolled the outgoing administration of President Jonathan for approving the NBP, expressing confidence in the Buhari government’s compelling posture for firm implementation of the plans.

“I think the Federal Government is doing a quite well, especially, by releasing a National Broadband Plan, but I will argue that the next government continues with the plan in an even ‘forceful’ manner.

“Similarly, spectrum allocations should be looked at too; it is more of technical, but very important in the nation’s quest for more ubiquitous broadband. There are sub-sectors that the broadband availability will immediately impact their operations such as the delivery viz- a-viz ecommerce, e-payment, education and other clusters of business. These are crucial reasons the digital economy should be allowed to blossom”.

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