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Broadband: FG Targets 70% Penetration By 2025

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…Not more than N390 per Gigabyte – Pantami

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami.

The Federal Government has designed the National Broadband Plan to deliver a penetration rate of 70 per cent by 2025; as well as data download speeds across Nigeria with effective coverage available to at least 90 per cent of the population by 2025.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, made this known while delivering a keynote address at the National Strategic Mobilisation for the Actualisation of National Broadband Target of 70 per cent Conference and Exhibition, themed “Realizing the New Set Target of 70 per cent of Broadband Penetration,” organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) in Abuja.

Pantami said the penetration rate also targets a minimum of 25Mbps in urban areas and 10Mbps in rural areas, at a price, not more than N390 per 1GB of data (2 per cent of median income or 1 per cent of minimum wage).

Represented by the director, IT infrastructure solution department at the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Usman Abdullahi, Pantami said: “Broadband is the backbone of a digital economy, as it has been identified by industry experts that 10 per cent increase in Broadband penetration will increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of an economy by between 1.6 per cent and 4.6 per cent.”

He cited that as of July 2021, the broadband penetration was 39.79 per cent. He further added that the current evaluation of the achievements of the Broadband Plan, so far, revealed that broadband penetration stood at 42.27 per cent as of the first quarter of 2022. 

The minister noted some of the challenges of broadband which include multiple taxation and regulation, non-conformity with agreed right-of-way (RoW) charges, difficulty in obtaining approvals and permits and burdensome taxes and levies. He said these burdens in the industry have stifled investment in telecommunication infrastructure.

He opined that this steady increase stemmed from relentless efforts made to address those challenges and the government is confident that the figure will continue to increase and surpass the set mid-term target of 50 per cent penetration by 2023. 

“Our confidence in this is based on the strength of positive indices in 3G and 4G population coverage which are presently at 83.65 per cent and 62.55 per cent, respectively,” the minister said.

In his paper presentation, the director-general, NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, highlighted NITDA’s contribution towards the demand drivers of 70 per cent broadband penetration – NIRA free domain registration.

According to the DG, this initiative seeks to ensure collaboration between NIRA (.ng registry), NITDA and CAC towards getting more Nigerian businesses online by assigning a free .ng domain to every new business registered with CAC for the first 2 years.

He added that Digital Indigenous Language Content policy is aimed at developing digital (educational, vocational, and entrepreneurial) content in local languages for citizen empowerment to leverage opportunities created by Broadband in digital literacy training and awareness. 

Abdullahi said the goal of these initiatives is to develop or adopt an explicit digital literacy standard with coherent training and requisite certification for the duration of the plan. 

“Our goal is to achieve, at least, 1 million developers with skills in various aspects of app development in the next 18 months.  Our long-term objective is to champion the recalibration of the curriculum of institutions of higher learning which remain the largest pipeline in the production of digital talents. 

“E-government interoperability framework will ensure the implementation of the Nigeria e-Government Interoperability framework (Ne-GIF). The framework specifies concepts, principles, policies, recommendations, standards and best practices for MDAs to work together towards cross-portfolio and seamless services delivery,” he added. 

Earlier in his remarks, the ATCON president, Engr. Ikechukwu Nnamani, maintained that the event is an interactive session and a platform where “we are exploring and taking inventory of where we are in terms of the broadband target that has been set. We all know this is critical to the digital economy we are trying to build, which is why the broadband plan must be implemented and achieved.” 

He said this is something that will drive this country forward in a positive way and lead to development across all sectors of the economy. 

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