The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has revealed that over 83.3 million subscribers are on broadband networks of 3G and 4G network, which are having practical and positive impact across sectors of the economy, including household consumptions, healthcare, education, agriculture, finance, transportation, commerce, governance, among others. This was revealed in a communiqué issued at the end of the NCC Broadband Technical Awareness Forum and obtained by New Telegraph. The regulatory agency and other stakeholders noted that there was need to drive broadband further to enhance not only the economy but individual living as well.
It was expected that the deployment of 5G would push the broadband expansion, however, the network has been limited in capacity as it is present only in Lagos State. Currently, Nigeria’s broadband penetration driven by 3G and 4G is at 44.5 per cent, while the country targets 70 per cent by 2025. They noted that the ICT sector, which has been the driver of the digital economy contributed 18.44 per cent to the total Nigerian real GDP in Q2’22, and, in particular, con-nectivity and digital technologies have always been responsible for economic development all over the world, including in security, political and civic engagements. According to the communiqué, digital technology would be directly relevant to the implementation of the vision and target of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, adding that it had aided the formalisation of government online meetings, which have so far ensured that governance could go on unhindered, notwithstanding physical location of members and of the Federal Executive Council and State Executive Councils, among other arms of government.
However, the Commission stated that it was dismayed to also note that although a few states had taken some steps to implement some components of the recommendation of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2030, there had been little or no verifiable ongoing Access Fiber Network projects being implemented or supported by states, which had stunted broadband penetration at the state levels.
“The creation of e-governance systems across the states needs to be further improved even though some states had deployed information and data sharing platforms in some of government departments. “Although progress had been made in realising some of the targets set in the previous broadband plan and even in the current plan, several factors still militated against the full attainment of the targets.
“The first broadband plan was severely hamstrung by issues of Right of Way, Regulation and Taxes, Security of Infrastructure, Spectrum Allocation and Investment and Funding.” Meanwhile, as solutions to the identified challenges, the NCC together with other telecoms stakeholders called for the commencement of process of developing a subnational strategy for deploying broadband facilities at the state levels to enable the achievement of the national broadband penetration target of 70 per cent by 2025, and provide a platform for engagement with state governors to deepen their understanding of the impacts and potentials of coordinating and investing in broadband penetration strategies. They also suggested provision of support for state governments to establish State Broadband Coordinating Councils (SBCC), which will complement ongoing implementation of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020 – 2030. The stakeholders, as contained in the communiqué, focused on broadband deployment beyond the cities, and funding models (investors, venture capitalists, Infracos, and grantmakers).
They recommended strong collaboration between the NCC, the federal and state governments to build out and implement broadband infrastructure at the state level, establish and institutionalise state broadband councils, using the strategy of stakeholder engagement, policy framework, capacity development, funding operations, programme evaluation and evolution, adopt a publicprivate- partnership model for infrastructure build out, funding and driving broadband penetration in the states, especially for cost reduction, and consider waiving their Right of Way charges for the greater benefits occasioned by broadband access for overall economic development for the states.