The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami has set up a Broadband Implementation Steering Committee (BISC) to be headed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)’s Executive Commissioner for Technical Services, Engr. Ubale Maska.
While inaugurating the inter-agency and multi-sectoral committee in Abuja on Thursday, the Minister said the central responsibility and mandate of the Committee, which would have its secretariat in NCC, is to ensure “effective monitoring for implementation of the National Broadband Plan (NBP), 2020- 2025.”
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, speaks on why the government initiated new five-year National Broadband Plan.
The minister said the committee was all part of the ongoing journey for a Digital Nigeria, which had received a boost since his assumption of office in August, 2019.
He said, “The journey started with the approval for the transformation of the ministry and its parastatals in October, 2019 from mere ICT institutions to digital economy institutions by the President. This was followed by the unveiling of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) in November, 2019 and the development of a new NBP 2020-2025, which was launched by the President in March 19, 2020.
“In the new National Broadband Plan, there are many targets. Principal of which are to cover 90 per cent of Nigerian population with broadband access and 70 per cent broadband penetration by 2025. We also plan to achieve a broadband speed of 25 megabits per second (mbps) in urban areas and 10 mbps in rural areas by the end of implementation of the new Broadband plan.”
According to Pantami, “The implementation of the new NBP had started fully and is resulting in the increase in broadband penetration currently at 40.18 percent, up from 35.10 per cent in August, 2019.”
The ICT industry, he said contributed 14.07 per cent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2020. He noted that increased broadband penetration will help Nigeria to achieve increased GDP growth.
The Minister, however, explained that problems of Right of Way, protection for telecom infrastructure and multiple taxations – which are critical to fast-track broadband infrastructure deployment and penetration – were being addressed from all fronts.
He added that the efforts were already yielding positive results with the engagement of relevant stakeholders including state government and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF).
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, on his part commended the Minister for the inauguration of the committee and promised the support of the Commission towards realisation of the mandate of the Committee.
The Chairman of the Committee, Engr. Maska, also assured the Minister of the Committee members’ readiness to deliver on the assignment.