The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami has implored members of the newly inaugurated National Broadband Plan (NBP) Committee to put first the interest of the nation and Nigerians at heart while making critical decision in broadband penetration for easy communication access.

Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami while speaking in Abuja at the Inauguration of the National Broadband Plan Committee on Monday said the committee is also expected to support the national digital economy policy and strategy for the Federal Government and ensure that nation attains the 70% broadband target by 2025.

It would be recalled that on the 28th November, President of Nigeria, Mohammadu Buhari unveiled the National Policy for Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a digital Nigeria.

Meanwhile, a document and work plan for the policy was formed, the document have eight pillars which include, developmental regulation, digital literacy and skills, solid infrastructure, service infrastructure, digital services development and promotion.

Others include soft infrastructure, digital society and emerging technologies and indigenous content, development and promotion.

Meanwhile, the Minister while Inaugurating the Committee noted that the new NBP Committee is expected to look at pillar three of the National Policy for Digital Economy Policy and Strategy as it accommodates broadband and data centre, which is key to economic growth and promotion of digital economy.

“The work of this committee will go a long way in supporting national digital economy policy and strategy for the Federal Government, In addition, digital economy is strategically dominating the world economy. According to oxford economics, 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, that is why we feel it is necessary after getting our national broadband in place, we need to immediately see how we can come up with a very important strategic committee to work on our national broadband plan so that all hands must be joined together to see how we can penetrate under served and unserved areas in the country”, he said.

Though, we still have challenges of broadband penetration, as it is today, approximately the penetration is 37.8 per cent less than 40 per cent,” He added.

The 36-member committee members drawn from both public sector and the ministry of communication is Chaired by the Managing Director and CEO of MainOne Cable Company Nigeria limited, Mr. Funke Okpeke and Co-Chaired by former Executive Commissioner, NCC, Dr. Bashir Gwandu, while Engr. Ubale Maska is to serve as Secretary with four ministry staff to serve as Secretariat and two others as Coordinators.

Other members include representatives of NCC, ABU Zaria, CTO, MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, Google, NiRA, Defence Space Administration, NFIU, NITDA, Galazy Backbone, NIGCOMSAT, ATCON, NCS and GSMA among others.

He therefore urge members of the Committee to make sure that the priority of Nigeria is number one.

“We should be very objective in our discussions, we should try to identify our priorities and preferences in whatever we do, and see how things can be done and we should try to interact with one another as friends and colleagues.

‘‘The work of the committee is not only on broadband but the economy of our country because even the economy relies so much on broadband penetration and broadband penetration is directly proportional to our GDP in the country.

The Chairperson of the NBP Committee, Ms. Funke Opeke while Responding on behalf of other members of the Committee, said that the target of the Committee is to achieve at least 65-70% broad band penetration across Nigeria, assuring that objectives is not to favour one technology over another or to be prescriptive but the right technology for the right purpose.

“The 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 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. There is work to be done on fixed infrastructure but the reality is mobile technologies are also progressing quite fast very capable services to people”, she said.

“We see what is going on with 5G all over the world, so we will address both at the committee, but I believe our objective is not to favour one technology over the another  but to figure out how we can get those critical services to many more Nigerians. So, that there will be varieties of technologies but the objectives is not to favour one technology over another or to be prescriptive but the right technology for the right purpose. The most competitive technology that enables us deliver services to all Nigerians,’’ She added.

Also speaking at the event, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta said Broadband Infrastructure remain one of the top priority of the ITU to ensure people around the world have access to equitable and affordable broadband, wherever they are and whatever the circumstances they are in. With adequate broadband infrastructure in place, he assured that everything else will fall into place.

‘‘The ability to deliver healthcare, best quality education even to generations unborn, ability to streamline transportation, meet up with SDGs and the ability to transform the economy into a digital one.’’ He pledged the commitment of the board and Management of NCC, especially in the area of driving the infrastructure that will enhance that critical mass of ICT adoption in use that will in time increase the level of broadband penetration in the country.

-Kenny Folarin


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