The federal government has called on the state governments to cooperate with service providers in ensuring the realisation of its 70 per cent broadband penetration by 2025.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ibrahim Pantami made the appeal at a virtual forum organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) with focus on the implementation of the New National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025, saying broadband deployment was beyond a mere collection of taxes and states should see network providers as partners in progress.
He said the ministry had received reports that some states had introduced extra charges that increased the charges beyond the N145/linear metre maximum agreed in January 22, 2020 by state governors, even as he urged operators to abide by the agreement reached with state governors at a National Economic Council meeting in March to repair the roads damaged during the installation of fibre optic cables.
“Infrastructure development is critical, especially as the country moves to achieve 70 per cent broadband penetration. To achieve this, partnership between the private sector and government is crucial. So far, the private sector controls 91 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while FG controls just nine per cent. So, it is essential that we work together to ensure the country’s development,” he said.
In his remarks, the executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, represented by the director of spectrum administration, Austine Nwaulune, underscored the need for stakeholders to aggregate their expertise for the realisation of the goal.
He said the NNBP had raised the performance bar for the whole industry, adding, however, “being a document crafted by experts and executives, there is no reason why it cannot be achieved to put Nigeria on a firm pedestal of nations with broadband access.”
Similarly, the director-general of the National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, said broadband plays a huge role in nations’ development, pointing out that “all stakeholders must be ready to work together to drive the realisation of the target.”
He urged the stakeholders to ensure that the NBP was achieved much faster and strategically for the good of Nigerians, saying broadband access is no longer a luxury but a necessity for economic and social development.
Earlier, ATCON president, Ikechukwu Nnamani, said the development of a solid digital economy rests on the foundation of well-distributed broadband infrastructure involving the convergence of all technologies and services.