The Federal government says it has set an ambitious plan to attain 50% broadband penetration by 2023.
It said this is critical because ubiquitous broadband penetration is key to attaining digital economy in Nigeria.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) disclosed this at the National Strategic Mobilization for the Actualization of National Broadband target of 70% conference and Exhibition organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, ATCON in Abuja at the weekend.
The Minister, who was represented by the Deputy Chairman of the National Broadband Plan Initiative, Mallam Abdul Gambo Usman said the 2020-2025 Broadband Plan was carefully designed to cover 90% of Nigerian population by 2025 at a price not more than 390 naira per Gigabyte.
Pantami said his confidence was hinged on the 83.65% of 3G and 62% of 4G networks penetration so far in the country to realize the set goal.
To achieve this objective, the minister said what is required is synergy among stakeholders at local, state and federal government levels.
‘’Nigeria has set out ambitious plan to deepen broadband penetration. The broadband plan will support the growth of digital economy, this will also improve socio-economic development of the country.
‘’Government recognizes the adoption of multi-sectoral approach being deployed by service providers. All hands must be on deck to create access now the sector is highest contributor to the GDP and fastest growing sector in the economy’’.
The sector had reported 42% broadband penetration as at Q1 2022, though dropped to 39% in the following Q.
Haven attained this feat, the Minister said the government is not unaware of the current challenges that are hindering development in the sector, ranging from -Insecurity and vandalism of telecom infrastructure, lack of domestic access to capital, deficiency in power supply; volatile and unstable oil market, multiple taxation and regulation, among others.
These according to him, is greatly precipitated by the fixation of state and Local Governments’ for short term tax benefit.
‘’The tech space is fast expanding with IT and e-Commerce. However, this momentum needs to be sustained. Multiple taxation and regulation are posing danger to sector growth. This has hindered infrastructure development.
‘’‘Operators are discouraged with these practices and this further deplete infrastructure growth. For a sector that contributed 12.55 to GDP in Q4 2021 and $80bn aggregate investment , this presents a challenge in balancing network demand, universal and local service obligations,’’ he added.
He however said the ministry is currently engaging various organs of government and various state governments in order not to derail the set target.
Pantami also informed that intervention to harmonize Right of Way categorization of technology infrastructure and gazette by the Office of the National Security Adviser to the President was ongoing.
He further emphasized the need for indigenization of infrastructure, which he said would encourage local innovators, generate employment, reduce capital flight and brain drain.
In his remarks, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Communications Commission, NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said Nigeria with over 200 million population and the largest telecom market in Africa has the potential to compete with China.
Prof. Danbatta said telecom sector needed more concerted attention to meet its mandate to Nigerians and to achieve the planned satellite services coverage were necessary. This, he said is to tackle most of the challenges in the sector, specifically on land.
To ensure success, the NCC EVC said the Commission had granted operational service license to foreign satellite companies and operators to complement NIGCOMSAT operation.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the President of ATCON, Eng. Ikechukwu Nnamani who welcomed guests and commended the turnout said stakeholders in the sector must work together and assiduously to harmonise efforts to move the sector forward and actualize the target of the National Broadband plan.
He urged participants to be sincere in their contributions and called for synergy among stakeholders to actualize the set target.
Nnamani said one of the major challenge hampering the effort is that most stakeholders in the sector had been working in silos and insisted that all hands must on deck to actualize the dream.