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Pantami Inaugurates 2020/2025 National Broadband Plan Committee

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The Federal government on Monday inaugurated a new National Broadband Plan Committee to drive the nation’s Broadband Plan.

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 percent broadband target by 2025.

The 36-member committee members drawn from both public sector and the ministry 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.

The inauguration of the new Committee was sequel to the expiration of 2013/2018 National Broadband Plan Committee late last year.

Recall that on the 28th November, President Mohammadu Buhari unveiled the National Policy for Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a digital Nigeria. In the document are eight pillars of: developmental regulation, digital literacy and skills, solid infrastructure, service infrastructure, digital services development and promotion, soft infrastructure, digital society and emerging technologies and indigenous content, development and promotio

Inaugurating the Committee, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami said the new NBP Committee is expected to look at pillar three on the National Policy for Digital Economy Policy and Strategy as it accommodates broadband and data center, which he said is key to economic growth and promotion of digital economy

According to him, 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. That is why this committee is very important and strategic.

‘‘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. According to one economic forum, by 2022 60 per cent of the world economy will be digitalised, just in the next three years.

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‘‘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 another 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.

‘‘During deliberations we should address one another with respect and maturity putting at the back of our minds that we are here to serve our country; there is nothing personal about this assignment. We still have challenges of broadband penetration, as it is today, approximately the penetration is 37.8 per cent less than 40 per cent,’’ the minister said.

Pantami said, members of the committee were selected based on their competence, integrity, professionalism.

He therefore urged 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.

‘‘Huawei recently released another report, which indicated the unserved and underserved communities, the committee may wish to look into the report and see what will be useful,’’ Pantami said.

Responding on behalf of other members of the Committee, the Chairperson of the NBP Committee, Ms. Funke Opeke said 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 to deliver very capable services to people.

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