The means of actualising an accelerated implementation of the new Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025 was the main focus as the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Ali Ibrahim Pantami engaged relevant industry players and agencies under his Ministry on Monday.
DigitalTimesNG gathered that at the first stakeholders’ consultation with the industry players held under the auspices of the Ministry in Abuja on Monday, October 19, 2020, Pantami specifically harped on the need for collaboration between the public and private stakeholders to achieve the national target of 70 per cent broadband penetration, as provided in the NNBP.
A release signed by the Director, Public Affairs of the NCC, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde and made available to DigitalTimesNG, quoted Pantami as telling participants at the meeting that the stakeholder consultative forum is important to the government as it provides the opportunity “to bring all the stakeholders on the same page for effective implementation of the NNBP 2020-2025.”
The Minister added that the achievement of the targets in the plan needs the support and full engagement of all stakeholders.
“So far, the journey for broadband penetration in Nigeria has been quite commendable and with the steady growth we are making, we are hopeful that our digital economy drive will be actualized.
“It is, however, important to bear in mind that broadband penetration, access to smartphones, development of digital identity ecosystem and biometric verification of bank accounts, are four key elements that can drive the digital economy,” he said.
The Minister who charged the industry stakeholders that participated at the forum physically and virtually to come up with ideas on areas where attention should be given by the government to accelerate broadband penetration also talked about various ongoing policy initiatives aimed at creating an enabling environment for industry players towards pervasive deployment of broadband infrastructure.
The success of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), he said, is also contingent on effective implementation of the broadband plan.
Also addressing the forum, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the Commission is embarking on necessary regulatory measures to actualize the targets in the national broadband policy.
“As a Commission, we are seeking collaborative action for the implementation of the plan and the NDEPS. The Commission will continue to facilitate necessary regulatory measures for the deployment of fibre infrastructure to all parts of the country, which is crucial for pervasive broadband penetration that we are all working to achieve,” Danbatta said.
Danbatta stated that while steady progress has been made with 54,724 kilometres of fibre so far deployed across the country, spirited efforts are being made by the Commission not only to increase this milestone in fibre infrastructure but also ensure their maximum protection by working with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) to stem the spate of infrastructure vandalism.
Industry stakeholders led by the President of the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Engr. Olusola Teniola advocated the need for buy-in by the operators and key stakeholders in the broadband vision and implementation drive of the government.
Chairman, Broadband Implementation Steering Committee (BISC) and Executive Commissioner, Technical Services at NCC, Ubale Maska, had earlier in his welcome address, stated that the main purpose of the consultation is to present the key provisions of the new national broadband plan in terms of its set targets, pillars, recommended initiatives, implementation timelines, responsibility matrix, governance structure and the various roles expected to be played by all stakeholders in the implementation of the plan, especially the key industry players.
The programme was attended by CEOs of agencies under the Ministry and representatives of telecoms companies.