Service providers under the aegis of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), are working to ensure the country’s broadband penetration hits 70 per cent by 2023.
To get this done, ATCON said the National Broadband Plan (NBP) 2013-2018, which was initiated by the pioneer Minister of Communications Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, would need to be reviewed to proffer new way forward for the industry.
ATCON, led by its President, Olusola Teniola, believed strongly in a new national discourse, like other industry stakeholders. As such, he said plans are in top gear by the association to gather all industry stakeholders together from which fresh ideas would be berthed on the way forward for Nigeria’s connectivity.
Already, against the 30 per cent target set in the NBP, Nigeria actually surpassed it, and finished 2018 with 32 per cent penetration. It is on this premise that ATCON believed that with envisaged stable political environment, partnership and collaboration amongst critical stakeholders. “We can safely say that the broadband penetration in the next five years would be 70%.”
For rural broadband connectivity, the Federal Government said it is working with the Indian Government to access $100 million concessional loan. The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, said this in Abuja recently. Shittu said the loan to be accessed would be part of India’s $10 billion concessional loans to African countries for the implementation of projects of their national priority rural broadband connectivity in India, “inspired” his application for the $100 million loan for the project.
“Nigeria must be prepared to take advantage of the available opportunities, one of which is in securing of credit line for the development of rural backbone infrastructure. “In India, as expansive as the country is, every area has sufficient broadband connectivity; everybody has access to online connectivity.
“This is the opposite in Nigeria. We have barely exceeded the 30 per cent connectivity rate. However, with this initiative, I believe within the next two months, we will have the opportunity of getting a credit line of $100 million from India to develop rural infrastructure.
“Such that without electricity, telecoms masts can function, as masts to be constructed via the credit line funding will be renewable based – that is solar-based.’’ He explained that Indian companies would be the installers of the equipment “because it is their technology that we will use the credit line to acquire.”
With the loan assurance in place, ATCON noted there was need for the industry to discuss the way forward for the country. The body revealed that on Febuary 7, in Abuja , there will be a discussion with the theme: ‘The Nigeria National Broadband Plan 2013 – 2018: Success, Prospects and Challenges’. Whose aim is to access, evaluate and come up with the way forward to further deepen broadband penetration in the country for the purpose of social economic development of Nigeria.
According to the Executive Secretary, ATCON, Ajibola Olude, in a statement, part of the objectives of the meeting would be for the Ministry of Communications to share its strategic plans to further implement areas that were not given attention in the last five years that were captured in the NBP.
Both the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, and the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Isa Alli Ibrahim Pantami, would also be expected to share their experiences with the stakeholders and highlight some of the successes and challenges confronted while trying to implement the just ended plan.
Olude explained that four sessions would look into broadband and its benefits; the challenges of broadband perators /strategy and roadmap goals, and objectives/ roles for government and other stakeholders.There would also be discussion on roles for government and other stakeholders/policy and regulatory priorities/adoption and utilisation; adoption and utilisation/local content imperative.