POLITICAL ECONOMY

Aggregating The Potential Of The Sub-sector To Meet The New Broadband Set Target Of 70%

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PROF. UMAR GARBA DANBATTA believes the National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 has raised the performance bar for the whole telecom industry. 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 adding that the Commission shall continue to proactively provide the necessary regulatory interventions which will facilitate the achievement of not only the 70 per cent broadband penetration target but other associated targets as well which will truly transform our economy into a Digital Economy.

I will like to begin by thanking the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) the organizers of this maiden occasion and other insightful events for invitation and partnership with the Commission.

The subject of my presentation today is titled “Aggregating the Potential of the Sub-Sector to Meet the New Broadband Set Target Of 70 per cent”.

The Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025 is, without a doubt , an ambitious document with targets set that were developed jointly by critical stakeholders of the Telecoms and IT sectors of Nigeria. These stakeholders comprising  Government and private sector Executives, Experts, Managers, Associations and MDA’s represent the Who is Who of the Telecom &  IT Sectors and they are people with firm belief and optimism as well as assurance that the set targets are practically achievable.

Some of the targets of the NNBP 2020-2025 include, achieving 15Mbps; 25Mbps internet speed in rural and urban areas respectively by 2025, interconnection of 90 per cent of all LGA’s by fibre, 70 per cent Population penetration, 100 per cent of Tertiary Institutions to be within 5Km of a fibre PoA, 60 per cent of all telecom towers to be connected by fibre, connection of 1 major hospital or General hospital per LGA via fibre, reduction of average cost of data to N390/Gb or less and establishment of at least one (1) local assembly or manufacture of smart devices, reduction of RoW to N145/m etc.

From the foregoing, it is obvious that Government, the industry and other stakeholders need to aggregate their potentials and expertise to achieve these targets.

The Commission has already commenced some of this consolidation with the directive issued to Infraco licensees to commence immediate roll-out of optic fibre cables (OFC) as contained in their license agreements to all the LGA headquarters by giving them freehand to start from viable areas and gradually move to unviable areas while the expected counter-part funding from Government is being finalized.

An equally important consolidation in the area of spectrum availability is the Commission’s finalization of the Spectrum Trading Guidelines as well as our collaboration with NigComSat that will make available 400MHz of prime spectrum for Next Generation Network deployment in the near future.

Collaboration with State Governments has also seen the adoption of the N145/m or outright waiver Right-of-Way (RoW) by six (6) State Governments, although, here we must mention that more needs to be done by the States and Local Governments to ensure full adoption and cascading of the decision for implementation. This notwithstanding, the Commission will not relent in its effort towards addressing the issue of RoW.

The Commission’s regulatory thrust towards enabling National Roaming, approval of e-SIM and 5G trials have also aggregated the efforts of the industry players towards achieving the set target.

Although, there has been a 3 per cent decline in the broadband penetration from a peak of 45.93 per cent in October 2020 to 42.93 per cent in January 2021, which was largely as a result of the suspension of registration of new SIM cards in December to facilitate smooth linkage and synchronization of the SIM- NIN databases, that will not only address some of the security challenges we are facing today, but it will help us determine the truly unique numbers in the Country thus further guiding us towards achieving the 70 per cent penetration target.

The NNBP 2020-2025 has raised the performance bar for the whole telecom industry, 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. I wish to assure you that the Commission shall continue to proactively provide the necessary regulatory interventions which will facilitate the achievement of not only the 70 per cent broadband penetration target, but other associated targets as well, which will truly transform our economy into a Digital Economy.

Thank you for your attention.

  • Being  Speech By Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, FNSE, FRAES, FAENG, FNIEEE Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communications Commission Delivered At The Virtual Structured Engagement With key Stakeholders In The Nigerian Telecom; IT Sector On The New Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025, March 25, 2021.
  • Editor’s Note: At this event, EVC was represented by the Director, Digital Economy, NCC, Dr. Austine Nwaulune.

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