The Federal government yesterday released a new five year National Broadband Plan to cover 2020-2025. The new plan is specifically to boost broadband penetration from its present coverage of 37.8 percent to over 70 percent in the next five years. The new plan is a precursor to the first NBP 2013 – 2018.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, who unveiled the plan, said pervasive broadband penetration will make Nigeria a truly digital economy. Meanwhile, a 25 member committee has been inaugurated in Abuja to spearhead achievement of the national plan.
The Committee members include Managing Director/CEO of Main One Cable Company Limited, Ms. Funke Opeke, who is the Chairperson, Dr. Bashir Gwandu, Co-Chairman and Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, Nigerian Communications Commissions, Engr.Ubale Maska, Secretary.
The secretariat will also be supported by four staff of the Ministry of Communications and Digital economy.
Besides, Opeke, Gwandu and Maska, the 25-member Committee also has representatives from the academia, NCC, Galaxy Backbone, MTN , Google, NiRA, Defence Space Administration, National Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd NIGCOMSAT, Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria, ATCON, Nigeria Computer Society, NCS and GSM Association, among others.
The Committee is to develop a new National Broadband Plan that will be the guiding template for the development of broadband which is an important area of telecommunications.
The Committee is to take a critical look at where the country is at the moment, after a painstaking review of the 2013-2018. The members are enjoined to also examine challenges of broadband penetration with a view to proffering solutions thereto. They should also look at the position of growing and emerging technologies among others.
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The new NBP has the collaboration and support of the United Kingdom (UK) Government.
The inauguration of this new Committee is a follow up to the launch of the National Policy for Digital Economy and Strategy by President Muhammadu Buhari, in November 2019.
The Policy has eight pillars among which are Developmental Regulation, Digital Literacy and Skills, Solid Infrastructure, Service Infrastructure, Digital Services Development and Production, Digital Society Emerging Technologies and Indigenous Content Development.
The Minister told the Committee members to lay emphasis on the third pillar of the National Policy which accommodates broadband and data centre, key components for economic growth, and promotion of digital economy.
Chairman of the committee, Ms Funke Opeke expressed happiness at the development and said: “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 to deliver very capable services to people.
“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 another but to figure out how we can get those critical services to many more Nigerians. So, we’ll be a mix of technologies but the objective 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