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Digital technology adds 4.07% to GDP as NNBP gets steering committee

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Isa Ali Pantami


The Federal Government has inaugurated an Implementation Steering Committee for the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025. The new broadband plan, which hopes to have 90 per cent of the population connected to broadband Internet, is equally targeting 70 per cent broadband penetration in another five years.
  
The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, who inaugurated the committee in Abuja, noted that within this period, the government targeted a minimum of 25 MB per second in urban cities, and 10 MB per second in rural areas.  
 
Pantami said broadband penetration is beyond taxation by states, and will facilitate job creation, improve the standard of living of the citizens, spur economic growth, and to a large extent increase the national gross domestic product (GDP).
 
According to him, Nigeria is on the right track to achieving the target, as it has already attained 40.18 per cent broadband penetration, indicating a 10 per cent increase from the initial 30 per cent penetration in 2018.
 
Pantami observed that digital technology has so far contributed 4.07 per cent to the GDP in 2020. He noted that the major obstacles to broadband penetration in Nigeria, relate to the issues of Right of Way (RoW), and multiple taxes in the telecommunications sector.
  
The Minister observed that some states were charging as high as N10, 000.00 per meter for RoW, but after several engagements with the state governments through the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), the issues were resolved and some states waived off the fees while some brought it down to N145.00 per meter.He explained that the government worked with stakeholders to produce the Broadband Plan, which has been launched by President Muhammadu Buhari.
  
Pantami observed that the President also directed that all telecommunication infrastructure across the country be protected, adding that the Executive Order seeking to declare telecom infrastructure a critical national infrastructure has been forwarded to the President for approval.
  
He noted that the Committee has the responsibility to monitor the implementation of the Broadband Plan and identify obstacles. Earlier in his remarks, the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Danbatta, described the inauguration of the Implementation Steering Committee as another milestone in the execution of the Broadband Plan 2020-2025.

He noted that salient positions in the Broadband Plan are supposed to be implemented stage by stage, to gravitate towards the actualisation of the plan, which will help drive Nigeria to become a digital country.
  
Also speaking, the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa, said the inauguration of the committee is an unprecedented milestone in achieving a digital Nigeria, adding that solid infrastructure provides the backbone of a digital economy.He observed that policy is not enough without implementation, adding that the 2020-2025 Broadband Plan will provide all the needed infrastructure for the digital economy.
   
In his response, Chairman of the Committee, Maska Ubale, said that broadband is very critical to any digital economy, stressing that effective and efficient broadband penetration will place the country at par with the developed nations of the world.
  
Ubale, an engineer, noted that members of the committee were selected from all the ICT ecosystem, and that each of the members will bring their expertise to bear towards a successful implementation of the new Broadband Plan.


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