Enhancing The Contributions Of Stakeholders Towards The Nigerian National Broadband Plan Through Enabling Policies

Enhancing The Contributions Of Stakeholders Towards The Nigerian National Broadband Plan Through Enabling Policies

DR. ISA ALI IBRAHIM PANTAMI believes the Nigerian Government cannot alone develop the economy in general and digital economy in particular without the input of the private sector and says government will stop at nothing to enthrone the right enabling environment to attract investments.

I am very delighted to speak at this important event as we discuss how to speed up the realization of the set targets of Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020 – 2025). I wish to thank the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) for organizing this auspicious event and inviting me to deliver the keynote address.

Broadband technology is a contributor to economic growth at several levels. It supports the development of the digital economy, consequently improving the nation’s traditional economy. Broadband enhances financial inclusion, security, education and is a key enabler for all the other sectors of the economy.

According to a Report by Ericsson titled: “How Important Are Mobile Broadband Networks for Global Economic Development”, 10 per cent increase in mobile broadband penetration results in approximately 0.6 per cent to 2.8 per cent rise in gross domestic product (GDP). This reflects how much of an impact Broadband can have on the economy, if channeled properly.

The Broadband Plan 2020-2025

In recognition of the tremendous economic growth opportunities afforded by the deployment of broadband technologies, I inaugurated a Presidential Committee on the 16th of December 2019 to draft the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) for Nigeria (2020-2025). The Committee was made up of a wide range of stakeholders- Nigerians with expertise across the public and private sector. The NNBP was unveiled and launched by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, on the  March 19, 2020. Mr. President also provided the mandate that was included in the Plan.

The Plan outlines a trajectory for significantly improving the broadband penetration in Nigeria over a period of 5 years. It replaced the initial Broadband Plan which expired in 2018. The new broadband plan seeks to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria at a minimum of 25Mbps in urban areas, and 10Mbps in rural areas, with effective coverage available to at least 90 per cent of the population and penetration rate of 70 per cent by 2025 at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data (2% of median income or 1 per cent of minimum wage).

The Plan targets the deployment of nationwide fibre coverage to reach all State Capitals, and provision of a point of presence in at least 90 per cent of Local Government Headquarters. It also targets tertiary educational institutions, major hospitals in each state and fibre connectivity at statutory rates of N145/meter for Right of Way (RoW).

In order to achieve these targets, the plan focused on recommendations in 4 focus areas, namely:

1. Infrastructure

2. Policy

3. Demand Drivers

4. Funding/Incentives

These focus areas are further broken down into 55 initiatives towards the actualization of the targets. (Infrastructure (Infrastructure- 14, Policy – 23, Demand Drivers- 12, Funding & Initiatives- 6).

Infrastructure is focused on building integrated infrastructure that is sustainable and resilient to close the gaps in addressing the broadband needs of the country and is geared towards extending broadband services to undeserved and under served areas in Nigeria. The Policy pillar addresses issues relating to the efficient use of spectrum, right of way, site acquisition  policies, availability of infrastructure and market efficiency.

Demand Drivers address barriers to the low usage rate and adoption of broadband services in the Country. Funding/Incentives identify the relevant financial incentives, fiscal policy, economic models and funding options to help the achievement of broadband penetration targets.

The diligent implementation of the recommendations in these focus areas through a multi-stakeholder approach will give the country a push into economic prosperity and create opportunities for job creation and innovation that will influence the GDP positively.

Strategic Engagements with Key Stakeholders

Bearing in mind the need for continuous engagement with Stakeholders, I have had a number of strategic engagements with key stakeholders to ensure the smooth implementation of the Plan.

Meeting with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum

For example, I had an engagement with the members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), facilitated by the Chairman of the Forum- the Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi. The meeting took place on the January 22,  2020 and I was accompanied to that meeting by the Chief Executive Officers of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), as well as the Chairman of the Broadband Plan Drafting Committee and CEO of Main One- Engr. Funke Opeke.

At that meeting, I made a presentation on the benefits of broadband and requested the buy-in of the Governors for the implementation of Broadband Plan and the Digital Economy Policy for a Digital Nigeria, The Governors unanimously agreed to adopt a maximum of N145/linear metre.  Some of the governors have even waived this amount altogether. Many of the Governors have begun full implementation and some have notified us in writing.  We received reports that some States have introduced some extraneous charges that have increased the charges beyond the amount agreed. We are We are discussing with States involved in such cases, with a view to addressing the disparity.

Meeting with National Economic Council

Last week, on the March 18, 2021 to be precise, I addressed the National Economic Council (NEC). The meeting was chaired by His Excellency, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo and it had more than 30 Governors in attendance.

I made a detailed presentation on the importance of broadband to the economy of the country and discussed the impact of ICT and telecoms on the economy, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics in the 4th Quarter GDP Report. The ICT sector grew by 14.70 per cent in the 4th Quarter, over

4 times the next fastest growing sector. Furthermore, the ICT sector also grew by 12.90 per cent in 2020, more than 3 times the growth rate of the second fastest growing sector. These statistics do not even include digital services,  which constitute a major part of the digital economy. I then emphasized the need for the Governors to abide by the earlier resolution of N145/linear metre.

There was a robust question and answer session, where many of the governors commended our modest efforts and urged their colleagues to abide by the resolution. His Excellency, the Vice President, also urged the Governors to support the implementation of the Broadband Plan by abiding to the Right of Way resolution.  Some of the governors also emphasized the need for the operators to ensure that they repair the roads that they damage during the installation of fibre optic cables. I use this forum to urge all operators to ensure that this is done.

NNBP: Progress Made

i. As at the time we commenced I started supervising the Ministry in August 2019 and we began the process of drafting the Broadband Plan, our broadband penetration in the country was just over 33 per cent. As a result of the implementation of the new plan, the broadband penetration significantly increased to 45.07 per cent by November 2020.

ii. Our engagement with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum in January 2020 has inspired several state governments to adopt the N145/meter and a few of these States have even waived the fee altogether.

iii. The average cost of 1GB of data has reduced from the January 2020 cost of N1,000 to N487.18 in November 2020, surpassing the target of achieving N700/1GB by 2023.

iv. Furthermore, the telecommunications sector recorded a growth rate of 15.90 per cent in the year 2020 from 11.41 per cent in 2019 and 11.33 per cent in 2018, making it the highest growth rate in the last 10 years. This performance is unprecedented.

v. His Excellency, President Buhari, GCFR has directed the security agencies to protect all Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) across the country and I have directed the Nigerian Communications

Commission to engage stakeholders in order to have a legislation that criminalizes any one that vandalizes equipment identified as a CNI.

vi. An Open Access Model has been developed to support fibre connectivity across the country with the aim of achieving the 120,000km fibre reach. We have had an increase from 47,000km to 54,725km.

vii. The 3G/4G Base Station Transceivers (BTS) have increased from 30,000 to 53,460.

viii. Also, regarding the deployment of National Satellite Broadband, NIGCOMSAT is in discussion with some operators to provide mobile back haul solutions to about 1000 sites in the remote undeserved areas and the process for getting a backup satellite for Compensation has been initiated.

ix. A policy has been developed in line with the Duct Network Development/Dig Once initiative to greatly reduce the down-time that results from fibre cuts. There is also a plan towards engaging with other relevant Ministries in this regard.

x. We are promoting the efficient use of assigned Spectrum through the enforcement of the “Use it, Trade it or Lose it” Policy on Spectrum.

xi. We have developed draft guidelines on Television White Spaces

(TVWS) and the document is undergoing legal review The journey is encouraging and significant progress has been made in realizing some of the targets set in the new Broadband Plan. Most of the challenges are being addressed. However, there is a critical need for deliberate efforts by all stakeholders towards ensuring that the targets set in this plan are realized.

This stakeholders’ engagement is a good step in the right direction towards achieving this as we strive to position our country to enjoy the benefits that ubiquitous nationwide broadband will provide.

I look forward to the insightful solutions which will be proffered at this engagement and it is my hope that the support of stakeholders will culminate into a speedy realization of our broadband target for Nigeria.

On this note, I thank you for the invitation to this timely Conference. Thank you for your kind attention and I wish you very successful deliberations.

  • Being the Keynote address of the Minister of Communications & Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami At A Virtual Structured Engagement With Key Stakeholders In The Nigerian Telecom & ICT Sector On The New National Broadband Plan 2020 – 2025 Held On Thursday, March 25, 2021.

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