The need to boost broadband penetration from its present coverage of 37.8 percent to over 70 percent in the next five years is the pedestal for the new National Broadband Plan (NBP):2020-2025, according to Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami.
Besides this, the Minister said, pervasive broadband penetration will certainly make Nigeria a truly digital economy. He spoke at the inauguration of a 25- member committee in Abuja.
The new NBP 2020-2025 is sequel to the first NBP 2013-2018. The new NBP Committee has Ms. Funke Opeke, Managing Director/CEO of Main One Cable Company Limited, as Chairperson with Dr. Bashir Gwandu as Co-Chairman. Engr. Ubale Maska, the Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as the Secretary to the Committee. Maska will be supported by four staff of the Ministry in the secretariat.
The Committee is to develop a new National Broadband Plan that will be the guiding template for the development of this very important area of telecommunications. The Committee is to take a critical look at where the country is after painstaking review of the 2013-2018 phase and the status of penetration now. The members are enjoined to also examine the challenges with a view to proffering solutions thereto. They should also look at the position of growing and emerging technologies among others. The new NBP has the collaboration and support of the United Kingdom (UK) Government.
The inauguration of the new Committee was 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. The Committee’s work, he explained, will address significantly one of the eight pillars and the remaining seven will also run as one of this all-important pillar.
Besides Ms. Opeke, Gwandu and Maska, the 25-member Committee also has representatives from the academia, NCC, Galaxy Backbone, MTN, Google, Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA), Defence Space Administration, National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Limited, Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), GSM Association, among others.