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Pantami tasks stakeholders on attainment of nationwide fibre deployment

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The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has called for deliberate efforts by stakeholders toward achieving the target of nationwide deployment of fibre coverage.

Pantami made the call on Thursday in a paper he presented at the Virtual Structural Engagement with Stakeholders in Nigerian Telecoms and ICT Sector on the New Broadband Plan 2020 to 2025.

The virtual meeting was organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), with the theme “Realising the New Set Target of 70 per cent of Broadband Penetration.”

The minister’s paper was entitled: “Enhancing the Contributions of the Stakeholders Toward the Nigerian National Broadband Plan Through Enabling Polices.”

He said the plan targets was the deployment of nationwide fibre coverage to reach all state capitals, and provision of a point of presence in at least 90 per cent of Local Government Headquarters.

“It also targets tertiary educational institutions, major hospitals in each state and fibre connectivity at statutory rates of N145 per metre for Right of Way (RoW).

“The journey is encouraging and significant progress has been made in realising some of the targets set in the new Broadband Plan, while most of the challenges are being addressed.

“This stakeholders’ engagement is a good step in the right direction toward achieving this as we strive to position our country to enjoy the benefits that ubiquitous nationwide broadband will provide,” Pantami said.

The minister said that to achieve the targets, the plan focussed on recommendations in four focus areas namely: Infrastructure, Policy, Demand Drivers and Funding/Incentives.

According to him, the focus areas are further broken down into 55 initiatives toward the actualisation of the targets (Infrastructure – 14; Policy – 23; Demand Drivers- 12; Funding and Initiatives- six.

“Infrastructure is focussed on building integrated infrastructure that is sustainable and resilient to close the gaps in addressing the broadband needs of the country and is geared toward extending broadband services to undeserved and underserved areas in Nigeria.

“The policy pillar addresses issues relating to the efficient use of spectrum, Right of Way, site acquisition policies, availability of infrastructure and market efficiency.

“The demand driver addresses barriers to the low usage rate and adoption of broadband services in the country,” the minister said.

He also identified progress of drafting of the broadband penetration increase from 33 per cent in 2019 to 45.07 per cent in November 2020.

In his remarks, the ATCON President, Mr Ikechukwu Nnamani, said the aim of the virtual meeting was to ascertain the status of the implementation of the NNBP 2020-2025.

“It also aims at identify potential bottlenecks that may negatively impact on the smooth implementation of the plan and proffer necessary solutions to mitigate against them,” Nnamani said.

He also said that it was to leverage on the wide spectrum of ATCON sub-groups for effective participation in the new Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025.

The ATCON president said this would be done by giving them the opportunity to access the plan and suggest various ways to speed up the realisation of the established target by the government.

Nnamani, however, commended the minister’s’ efforts toward resolving the key challenges facing the industry, and advocated speedy implementation of the national broadband plan.

“The fruits of his efforts can be seen in terms of broadband penetration and various policies that have been initiated, ratified, and issued to further encourage the growth of the industry,” he said.

The association president appealed to ATCON members not to rest on their oars to ensure the realisation of 70 per cent broadband penetration target.

Okuanwan Offiong

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