Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami posits that harnessing the social and economic benefits that come along with 5G will catalyse the successful implementation of the National Digital Economy Development and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria.
Protocols and Greetings.
I am delighted to be here to deliver the Keynote Paper at this Stakeholder Engagement Forum on the Draft Information Memorandum on the Auction of 3.5GHz Spectrum Band for implementation of the Fifth Generation (5G) Network in Nigeria. This is yet another milestone in the desire of the Federal Government to roll-out 5G network in the country as quickly as possible. I sincerely thank His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for his tremendous support towards this and other programmes of the Ministry.
Distinguished participants, as you may be all aware, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved a National 5G Policy for Nigeria’s Digital Economy on September 8, 2021. The Policy is a 43-page document containing all the necessary information guiding the processes and procedures for the deployment of 5G technology in Nigeria.
Among other mandates the Policy stipulated is the collaboration with relevant stakeholders and provision of the required spectrum and enabling environment to ensure full deployment of 5G. This will harness the social and economic benefits that come along with it, and will serve as a catalyst for the successful implementation of our National Digital Economy Development and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria.
0n the implementation of the Policy, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (FMCDE), is saddled with the responsibility of developing strategies, standards, guidelines and frameworks for the deployment of the 5G networks nationwide. Accordingly, to ensure a coordinated approach, the Commission has been directed to not only collaborate with relevant agencies under the Ministry, but with all other relevant stakeholders in order to achieve the aims and objectives of the Policy.
Further to the above, it is interesting to note that, the Policy is designed and formulated to achieve many other goals, a few amongst which are:
i. to ensure effective deployment of 5G to cover major urban areas by 2025;
ii. to ensure security of 5G ecosystem and the protection of data;
iii. to ensure that international best practices and globally accepted standards and specifications are entrenched in Nigeria’s 5G ecosystem; and
iv. to ensure that the required infrastructure needed for successful deployment of 5G networks such as data centres, power, etc, are catered for in deployment strategies of 5G networks.
Ladies and gentlemen, you will agree with me that all the above cannot be achieved without proper collaboration amongst the various stakeholders of the industry. The participants at this forum having been carefully selected as the critical stakeholders, along with the Ministry and the NCC. We all have a vital and specific role to play in this journey towards using 5G to support our national economic development agenda.
While the Ministry, through the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), is to supervise and provide the required spectrum. The NCC is to organize and coordinate forums like this to collate inputs from our critical partners, like you, for the success of the exercise.
I am happy to inform to inform you that, as the Honourable Minister and Chairman NFMC, the 3.5GHz spectrum band (the lower C-band), which is not effective in satellite operations, has been recovered from NIGCOMSAT and reallocated to the NCC in the first instance, for deployment of 5G technology based on terms and conditions agreed by both parties.
The next step is auctioning of the spectrum which is under the purview of the regulator of the industry. However, for transparency and accountability in the sale of this common national heritage, the Federal Government thought it wise to involve relevant stakeholders in the process so that the general public is carried along.
The purpose of this gathering therefore, is to discuss the Information Memorandum on the Auction of this 3.5GHz Spectrum Band allocated for deployment of 5G network in Nigeria. I therefore, urge you participants to use your time, energy and expertise and accord this national assignment the attention it deserves. Your service is for the advancement of our national interest and for the benefit of the generations yet unborn.
Distinguished participants, at this juncture, I wish to take my leave to allow you more time to freely and exhaustively discuss to come up with far reaching recommendations that will ensure successful auction of the spectrum in accordance with the international best practices for maximum benefit to our nation.
On this note, it is my singular honour to declare this forum open. I wish you very successful deliberations.