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

We’ll Address Other Charges For RoW Introduced By Some States – Pantami

TECH DIGEST – The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has said that diligent implementation of the recommendations contained in the New National Broadband Plan (NNBP 2020-2025) will give the country a push into economic prosperity and create opportunities for job creation and innovation that will influence the GDP positively.

The NNBP was unveiled and launched by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, on the 19th of March, 2020. Mr President also provided the mandate that was included in the Plan.

To consolidate on the plan, Pantami made a presentation on the benefits of broadband and requested the buy-in of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum for the implementation of Broadband Plan and the Digital Economy Policy for a Digital Nigeria.

The Governors unanimously agreed to adopt a maximum of N145/linear metre (for Right of Way). Some of the governors have even waived this amount altogether. Many of the Governors have begun full implementation and some have notified us in writing.

The Minister speaking during a Virtual engagement with key stakeholders in the Nigerian Telecom and IT Sector on the new Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP 2020-2025) organised by the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) on Thursday, March 25, 2020, said that reports indicate some States have introduced some extraneous charges that have increased the charges beyond the amount agreed.

To this end, Pantami said that the Ministry “are discussing with States involved in such cases, with a view to addressing the disparity”.

“Last week, on the 18th March 2021 to be precise, I addressed the National Economic Council (NEC). The meeting was chaired by His Excellency, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo and it had more than 30 Governors in attendance.

“I made a detailed presentation on the importance of broadband to the economy of the country and discussed the impact of ICT and telecoms on the economy, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics in the 4th Quarter GDP Report.

“The ICT sector grew by 14.70% in the 4th Quarter, over 4 times the next fastest growing sector. Furthermore, the ICT sector also grew by 12.90% in 2020, more than 3 times the growth rate of the second fastest growing sector.

“These statistics do not even include digital services, which constitute a major part of the digital economy. I then emphasized the need for the Governors to abide by the earlier resolution of N145/linear metre.

“There was a robust question and answer session, where many of the governors commended our modest efforts and urged their colleagues to abide by the resolution. His Excellency, the Vice President, also urged the Governors to support the implementation of the Broadband Plan by abiding to the Right of Way resolution.

“Some of the governors also emphasized the need for the operators to ensure that they repair the roads that they damage during the installation of fibre optic cables. I use this forum to urge all operators to ensure that this is done”.

Pantami also informed stakeholders who joined the ATCON session about progresses made since the NNBP 2020-2025 was launched by President Buhari:

Pantami listed the progress so far as follows:

i. As at the time we commenced I started supervising the Ministry in August 2019 and we began the process of drafting the Broadband Plan, our broadband penetration in the country was just over 33%. As a result of the implementation of the new plan, the broadband penetration significantly increased to 45.07% by November 2020.

ii. Our engagement with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum in January 2020 has inspired several state governments to adopt the N145/meter and a few of these States have even waived the fee altogether.

iii. The average cost of 1GB of data has reduced from the January 2020 cost of N1,000 to N487.18 in November 2020, surpassing the target of achieving N700/1GB by 2023

iv. Furthermore, the telecommunications sector recorded a growth rate of 15.90% in the year 2020 from 11.41% in 2019 and 11.33% in 2018, making it the highest growth rate in the last 10 years. This performance is unprecedented.

V. His Excellency, President Buhari, GCFR has directed the security agencies to protect all Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) across the country and I have directed the Nigerian Communications Commission to engage stakeholders in order to have a legislation that criminalizes any one that vandalizes equipment identified as a CNI.

Vi . An Open Access Model has been developed to support fibre connectivity across the country with the aim of achieving the 120,000km fibre reach. We have had an increase from 47,000km to 54,725km.

vii. The 3G/4G Base Station Transceivers (BTS) have increased from 30,000 to 53,460.

viii. Also, regarding the deployment of National Satellite Broadband, NIGCOMSAT is in discussion with some operators to provide mobile back haul solutions to about 1000 sites in the remote undeserved areas and the process for getting a backup satellite for Compensation has been initiated.

iX. A policy has been developed in line with the Duct Network Development/Dig Once initiative to greatly reduce the down-time that results from fibre cuts. There is also a plan towards engaging with other relevant Ministries in this regard.

X. We are promoting the efficient use of assigned Spectrum through the enforcement of the “Use it, Trade it or Lose it” Policy on Spectrum.

Xi. We have developed draft guidelines on Television White Spaces (TVWS) and the document is undergoing legal review

Pantami said that the journey is encouraging and significant progress has been made in realizing some of the targets set in the new Broadband Plan.

“Most of the challenges are being addressed. However, there is a critical need for deliberate efforts by all stakeholders towards ensuring that the targets set in this plan are realized.

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

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