FG Seeks Stakeholders Support On Broadband Expansion Plan ..Targets 70% Penetration By 2021

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Yemisi Izuora 

The Honourable Minister of Communications, Dr. Adebayo Shittu has urged ICT stakeholders to support the Nigerian National Broadband Council with credible suggestions towards the development of the new Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) for  2019 – 2023.

He made this known during a meeting organized by Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) on A Post-Nigeria National Broadband Plan 2013-2018 with a theme “Success, Prospects and Challenges” held at the Treasury Suites & Conference, Abuja.

The Minister expressed the ministry’s commitment to attain 70 per cent broadband penetration by 2021.

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.

Shittu said: “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.”

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.

He said: “The current mast that all the telecom operators use is very expensive to maintain.

The Minister stated that Nigeria has been improving its use of ICT enabled services to drive socio-economic activities and created an enormous need for sustainable broadband capacity and improved quality of services.

He said that the Council has been reviewing the progress made so far, and identified areas of program adjustment to permit the realization of new and emerging opportunities.

Dr. Shittu added that such areas of review were development of an Integrated National Broadband Backbone; development of National Policy on Open Access; constitution of Inter-Ministerial Committee on ICT Convergence and related issues; engagement of Strategic Partners on specific issues (such as RoW, Funding, Tax waivers etc); and Participation of all Stakeholders in the review process through suggestions to improve on the new strategy document.

The Minister reiterated that Nigerian National Broadband Council was established to provide periodic evaluation of progress, facilitate coordination and collaboration and highlight areas of program adjustment to permit the realization of new and emerging opportunities.

He stressed that the Ministry has developed some critical policy documents to guide interested investors and industry players and to engender trust. Some of the policy documents include; the e-Government Masterplan; the Local Content Guideline, and ICT Roadmap.

Earlier, the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta,  stated that progress has been made in enhancing broadband infrastructure by the issuance of licensed to 6 (six) infrastructure companies (InfraCos) to drive the deployment of infrastructure across the nations’ geographical zones.

 “NCC is working with  NBC as mandated by the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC) to develop guidelines for the introduction of TV White Space (TVWS) deployment in the country to further deepen Broadband penetration in Nigeria,” He said.

In his overview of the Broadband Plan 2013-2018, the Managing Director/CEO, Steven Allen Associates, Mr. Osondu Nwokoro commended the Ministry and its agencies for achieving the target and promoting instant shared infrastructure among existing operators adding that there is the need to look at the loopholes in the plan in order to forge ahead for better result for future plan.

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