Nigeria, today, launched a new National Broadband Plan(NBP) for 2020-2025 to facilitate its roadmap to Digital economy.
The launch, currently underway at the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy Complex in Abuja, is coordinated by the President of the nation, Mohammadu Buhari, amongst the commissioning of other infrastructures such as ICT projects, and flag-off of the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Training.
All over the world, broadband penetration remains a prerequisite and springboard to boosting Digital economy, thus the current move by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and its affiliated agencies, including the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, the Nigerian Communication Commission and other stakeholders to resolve challenges mitigating broadband penetration in the polity.
The Minister for Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, to this regard, commissioned a 25-man committee last year, comprising of industry experts and stakeholders from the government, public and private sectors, headed by Ms Funke Opeke, Managing Director/CEO of Main One Cable Company Limited, to coordinate the development of the new National Broadband Plan targeted for the next five years (2020-2025).
The new NBP will contain a series of guidelines and strategies, new technologies and solutions that can be leveraged to advance broadband penetration up to a 70 per cent coverage against the current coverage rate of 35 per cent.
Additionally, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is developing a framework for Television White Space (TVWS), an unused broadcasting spectrum which can provide affordable broadband services to people at the grassroots when deployed. The Ministry, in conjunction with the commission, on Tuesday, organised an Industry Stakeholder Forum on the Guidelines on the use of TVWS in Nigeria, at the Commission’s Head Office in Abuja. The forum focused on finalising the draft Guidelines on the deployment of the technology, in line with the Commission’s commitment towards bridging the digital divide between different strata and sectors of the society with contributions from and feedback from attendees.
Speaking at the forum, the Honourable Minister reiterated the importance of broadband penetration to attaining the Ministry goal. He spoke briefly on the whitespace Television stressing that its Guidelines correlates with the objective of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in November last year. He stated that the move is as a result of a resolution by the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC) in which NCC and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) were urged to work together by setting up an inter-agency committee that will guarantee the deployment and usage of the spectrum for TVWS.
Dr Pantami noted that TVWS can be leveraged in delivering affordable broadband services to unserved and underserved areas.
“The whole world is about Digital economy; it is because of this we discovered that you cannot promote digital Economy without broadband and if you look at our un-served and underserved areas, the earlier we reach out to them by providing broadband the better for the Digital Economy”, he observed.
“It is because of this that NFMC urged both to work together for the practical utilisation of TVWS, which also supports the expanded mandate of the Ministry towards advancing government’s vision of promoting the digital economy”.
“The framework directly addresses two of the eight pillars of NDEPS, which are pillar one and three focusing on developmental regulations, and solid infrastructure, which has broadband access as a central component,” he said.
Conclusively, Minister Pantami lauded the efforts of NCC and NBC coordinating the stakeholder forum to gather contributional inputs before concluding work on the TVWS regulations. He also called on all stakeholders not relent in all activities in pursuance of the objective, which is Digital economy.
Ogechi Onuoha is a Cambridge Certified ESOL editor with a background in reporting, international relations, creative writing and adept in industry research and analysis. She is passionate about curating and evaluating the benefits/relevance of space to grassroots development and women’s participation in the space sector.