The executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has said Nigeria’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) has a vital role to play in the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in other sectors of the economy. He stated this at a workshop on ‘Nigeria National Broadband Plan 2013 to 2018’, organised by the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), with the theme ‘Success, prospects and challenges’ in Abuja. The NCC boss contended that broadband had completely transformed the way essential services were delivered in sectors such as the e-health, e-education, e-commerce, e-government amongst others, adding the Federal Government was aware of the importance of broadband hence the establishment of the NBP to drive broadband penetration. “Broadband networks deliver benefits across the whole of the society in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals in every sector. These networks are incredibly cost-effective, especially when you look at the savings across multiple sectors. Therefore, the Federal Government of Nigeria’s first step was to establish very clear strategies and milestones for the attainment of affordable, accessible and available broadband infrastructure and services – the NBP,” he said. He listed some of the glaring challenges in the NBP implementation to include inadequate metro fibre infrastructure in several towns and cities that would effectively distribute in the hinterland the adequate bandwidth from international submarine cables at the landing points in Lagos of more than nine terabits; high Right of Way (RoW) charges; multiple regulation and taxation; and delays in obtaining site acquisition permits. He added that the commission deliberately developed a strategic vision plan (SVP) which was in sync with the commission’s strategic management plan (SMP) to drive the nation’s 30 per cent broadband penetration target for 2018. According to him, “The implementation of the commission’s SVP roadmap has so far resulted in the attainment of the 30. 9 per cent broadband penetration as at November 2018. What this connotes is that, a total of 58,965,478 were connected to the broadband networks out of 108, 457,051 internet subscribers in the nation’s telecom networks. The figures rose in December to 60, 087,199 taking the penetration to 31.48 per cent.” Earlier, the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu expressed the ministry’s commitment to attain 70 per cent broadband penetration by 2021, applauding Federal Government’s efforts in moving from 18 to 31 per cent broadband connectivity between 2015 and 2019, adding more still needed to be done to attain greater feats.
Earlier, the president of ATCON, Mr Olusola Teniola called for increased collaboration among telecommunication companies to create an industry that would attract more investors in the country. He said the meeting was principally to see how the industry could work toward achieving a greater broadband penetration, adding “the industry suggests 70 per cent broadband penetration as being realistic in the next five years by removing collectively those obstacles that worked against the initial plan.”