Federal Government Launches New National Broadband Plan

Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy
Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy

The Federal Government has launched a new National Broadband Plan, covering the period 2020 to2025, which is designed to deliver improved data download speeds across Nigeria, at a minimum of 25Mbps in urban areas, and 10Mbps in rural areas. Under the Plan, at least 90percentof the country’s population would have effective coverage by 2025 at a price of not more than N390 per GB of data, which is 2 per cent of median income or 1 percent of the minimum wage).

The new broadband plan services address various socio-economic challenges faced by the country, including the need to grow the economy, create jobs, rapidly expand the tax base, and improve digital literacy and educational standards. This will also address identity management and security challenges through the effective use of technology, increase financial inclusion and deliver a broad range of services to its people to improve the quality of life and work towards the attainment of Social Development Goals set by the UN for 2030.

The Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami responded to this mandate with the development of a National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, which was unveiled by the President in November 2019. The strategy identifies eight (8) critical pillars namely; Developmental Regulation, Digital Literacy and Skills, Solid Infrastructure, Service Infrastructure, Digital Services Development & Promotion, Soft Infrastructure, Digital Society & Emerging Technologies and Indigenous Content Promotion & Adoption. The development of the Solid Infrastructure pillar forms the main focus of this Plan.

According to the Plan, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy will begin ranking of the states of the federation according to their level of development digitally from the fourth quarter of this year.

The move, which is part of the recommendations of the National Broadband Plan Committee set up by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, is aimed at encouraging each state government to show more commitment to broadband penetration in their respective states.

In his remark, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy said: “implementation of the Plan will lead to the creation of jobs, improved socio-economic development and sustained economic growth, amongst others.”

“However, it is important to note that the successful implementation of the Plan requires synergy between government and the private sector. As such, this Plan has received input from all stakeholders and will be driven by the private sector, with the government providing the enabling environment,” he said.

President Mohammed Buhari has directed stakeholders to fully support the implementation of the Plan as they seek to position Nigeria to enjoy the benefits that ubiquitous nationwide broadband will provide.  It will be recalled that Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy inaugurated the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 Presidential Committee on December 16, 2019. The Committee, made up of industry stakeholders and representatives of key Government Agencies, supported by non-Governmental and Civil Society Organisations along with Development Partners, worked assiduously in producing this document.