By Na’ankwat Dariem
The Nigerian government has inaugurated the Nigerian National Broadband Plan Committee for the Development of the 2020-2025 National Broadband Plan for Nigeria.
This is part of the country’s effort to foster the growth of a Digital Economy and to achieve broadband penetration by 2025 in the country.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Dr. Isa Pantami spoke in Abuja during the inauguration of the committee and technical retreat for zero draft of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025.
He charged the members on the importance of putting aside personal interest and upholding professionalism in the discharge of the critical national assignment.
“Selection criteria for members of the committee was based on competence, integrity and professionalism”. Adding that “we did not restrict the Nigerian National Broadband Plan to only this administration, the target is Nigeria, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari led administration is out to support Nigeria and make decisions in her best interest,” Pantami explained.
He noted that the committee would work based on third of the 8 pillars of national policy for digital economy policy and strategy for a digital Nigeria which was unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari had on 28 November 2019 .
”If you look at pillar three, it accommodates broadband and data center, this is key because all other pillars rely so much on this very important one and I think the work of the committee is going to address significantly one of the eight pillars and the remaining seven pillars also are attached to it and their success also depends on this very important pillar,” he said
Dr. Pantami while stressing the importance of broadband as key to achieving digital economy, quoted the oxford economics as saying that the digital economy was strategically dominating the world’s economy and the value of digital economy as of today is 11.5 trillion USD, which is approximately 16 per cent of the world economy.
“And by 2030, almost 85 per cent of the world economy is going to be a digital economy because digital economy is dominating the world.You cannot develop and promote digital economy without broadband at your disposal or in your country. We feel it is necessary after getting our national broadband in place we need to immediately see how we can come up with another very important strategic committee to work on our national broadband plan. All hands must be joined together to see how we can penetrate under served and unserved areas in the country.” the Minister explained
The representative of the United Kingdom government, Mr. Guy Harrison said the UK would provide technical expertise assistance to ensure that the zero draft of Nigerian national broadband plan comes to reality.
”The UK will also provide specialised national broadband developments and communications consultants to work with the ministry to provide and deliver this project. The expert consultants will then help to develop and support developments in the National broadband strategy. This will provide national leadership and strategic sector direction for countrywide broadband connectivity and set the framework for all engagements for public and private sector broadband connectivity settlements for the year 2025,” he said
He said in assisting Nigeria in increasing connectivity and broadband infrastructure, the UK was currently working with Nigerian Communications Commission to embark on a project to support the development of Right of Way (RoW) regulation and illustration .
”It includes a country study of the current changing approach to RoW and the issuing of planning permits for masts and towers by relevant tiers of government,” Mr. Harrison noted.
The Co- Chairperson of the Committee and CEO MainOne Cable Company Nigetia LtD, Ms. Funke Opeke while appreciating the government said the committee will bring up a plan that will provide quality services that will benefit all Nigerians and hope to achieve 65-70% broadband penetration across Nigeria by 2025.
“The honourable Minister has set the goal we believe that the NCC is in agreement. For us as a committee we will look at what was done by the previous committee. The issues and challenges that still exist and come up with a plan that allow us to achieve the set objective. I believe the objective is achievable with hard work and sincerity of purpose because these are critical infrastructure and services that needs to be brought to all Nigerians,” Opeke noted.
She said the committee would address both fix and mobile infrastructure.
”Ibelieve our objective is not to favour one technology over the another but how to figure out how we can get these services to Nigerian .So it will be mixed of technologies also the right technology for the purpose the most competitive that will enable us deliver service to all Nigerians,” Opeke stated.
The committee has 26 members drawn from Agencies under the supervision of the Ministry, Stakeholders from both the public and private sectors.