Experts in the telecommunication sector have said the nation’s quest to achieve 30 per cent broadband penetration target by the end of 2018 may not be feasible given the nation’s antecedents.
LEADERSHIP recalls that the federal government rolled out a detailed five-year National Broadband Plan (NBP) from 2013 – 2018, and vested the responsibility of achieving this plan on key government agencies like the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA); Nigeria Communication Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Limited; Galaxy Backbone; including critical stakeholders like telecommunication operators.
Prior to the NBP, Nigeria’s broadband penetration as at 2012 was between four to six percent. Nigeria was able to make giants strides in the sector and achieved 20 per cent in 2016. The sector experience some sort of drag in 2017 by growing its broadband penetration base.
that the country in 2015 came up with a 5-year broadband plan which would see the nation move its broadband infrastructure from 10 to 30 per cent within the stipulated period. Since the target was set, Nigeria has moved its broadband base from 12 to 21. Record shows the sector experienced some sort of drag in 2017, growing its broadband penetration base by one, making it 22 as at 2017.
Speaking with journalists recently in Abuja, the executive vice chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, pointed out that Nigeria has done very well in broadband penetration within the timeframe despite the temporary setback and challenges in the sector.
Danbatta said: “The NBP stated that the country must achieve five-fold in broadband penetration, but this of course depends on the minimum and maximum thresh hold. By multiplying four per cent minimum level of broadband by five, which represents the five years broadband plan, it will give 20 per cent minimum broadband target and by multiplying six per cent maximum broadband penetration as at 2012 by the five years broadband plan, it will give 30 per cent broadband penetration, which is maximum target at the end of 2018.
“But Nigeria had in 2017, surpassed the minimum target of 20 per cent, working towards achieving the maximum target of 30 per cent by the end of 2018. This is according to the NBP. As of today, Nigeria has achieved 22 per cent broadband penetration, and it is close to achieving the 30 per cent target.”
However, speaking in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP, an ICT expert, the executive chairman, Consultancy Support Services Ltd., Abdul-Hakeem Ajijola, averred that it’ll be very difficult for Nigeria to hit the 30 per cent threshold by the end of 2018 given the nation’s antecedent.
He said: “The year is almost over and the question is have we met the 30 per cent broadband initiative? If we have not met it then we have a problem. This is to meet 30 per cent, we need to meet much higher, maybe like 90 per cent. So, if we’re struggling just to meet 30 then I think the country has a problem.”
Similarly, also speaking exclusively to LEADERSHIP, the chairman of Digital Africa, Dr Evans Woherem, opined that Nigeria will not hit the target, saying the nation should be talking about doubling its current bandwidth, attributing the dip on lack of sense of urgency by the government.
He said: “No, I don’t think we’ll hit the 30 per cent but even if we don’t, personally, I won’t really say that we’ve done abysmally badly there. To me, even the estimated 30 per cent we are to meet is even low. We ought to be talking about 70/80 per cent improvement, even doubling our bandwidth. Again, with a sense of urgency these things are very doable.”
According to him, “We don’t have the will-power and the sense of urgency in all these matters because I don’t believe that as a country, most of the people in the leadership positions of this country don’t realize the importance of all these things, they do, it’s just that somehow we have not developed, as a people, a sense of urgency in these matters.”
Chief executive officer of CoinMD Africa, Mr Peter Elofusim, urged the federal government to borrow a leaf from developed countries by opening up the telecom sector and encouraging stakeholders to grow the sector competitively by investing in infrastructure rather than pay for service.
“I’ll give you an example, in Chicago, as at today, has citywide free internet service. It doesn’t cost the government anything to make Abuja, Port Harcourt, Lagos for example to provide free internet access to the citizenry.
“The government should make deliberate effort, it doesn’t cost them anything instead they’ll be empowering companies providing internet. All they need is to get a huge internet backup provider, do not pay them for infrastructure but rather pay them for service. So, it becomes a role model which other states can pick up,’’ he said.
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