The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has evaluated the state of broadband deployment in Nigeria and recommended policy interventions that could see Nigeria become a major player in content creation and electronic commerce in the global super highway.
Mr. Lanre Ajayi, the new president of the association in a paper presented at the just concluded West African ICT Conference and Exhibition (Wafict) in Lagos last week, noted that the country faced bandwidth distribution challenge arising from lack of adequate national transmission backbone and unavailability of spectrum for last mile connectivity. He also stated that the low demand for broadband was caused by lack of local content and e-services.
Proposing broadband policy intervention, he suggested that government should set a computer and broadband penetration goals, define policy objectives and strategies for e-Government, e-Commerce, IT park development, internet governance, cyber security, internet exchange, spectrum management and outsourcing.
Ajayi, said: “The broadband penetration of Nigeria is said to be about 16 per cent. More than 70 per cent of Nigerian homes should be connected to broadband internet within five years.
“We need to ensure that broadband connectivity is available in all schools – primary, secondary and tertiary, and that all students have access to it, and ensure that every government office is connected to broadband internet.”
Ajayi proposed a 20 per cent computer penetration. “This can be funded through funds from sources like NITDEF, USPF, ETF and PTDF. When these computers, owned by students are shared with parents and other family members at home, it enables the achievement of the proposed 50 per cent broadband penetration,” he said.
To incentivise operators to roll out broadband networks, he said government should encourage them to deepen their investment in broadband network rollout by granting them tax holiday as was done for the GSM rollout.
The ATCON president added: “Government has to take a lead in the adoption of the Internet to provide services. This will not only provide an efficient platform for service delivery, but increase demand for broadband services and create the necessary local traffic.
“To achieve this, FG should as a policy make it mandatory for all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) to adopt e-Government, put all government services online, make all government forms available online, adopt e-Payment which enables the MDAs to accept payment online and make it mandatory for all MDAs to put all non-classified records and documents online.