Make broadband penetration a priority; NITRA, others tell Buhari

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L-R: Gbolahan Awonuga, Secretary of ALTON; Olusegun Salami, senior manager at MTN Nigeria; Emma Okonji, President of NITRA; Emmanuel Ekuwem, CEO of Teledom Group; Lanre Ajayi, President of ATCON and a representative of NCC
L-R: Gbolahan Awonuga, Secretary of ALTON; Olusegun Salami, senior manager at MTN Nigeria; Emma Okonji, President of NITRA; Emmanuel Ekuwem, CEO of Teledom Group; Lanre Ajayi, President of ATCON and a representative of NCC

By Martin Ekpeke The Nigeria Information and Communications Technology Reporters’ Association (NITRA) and other stakeholders in the ICT industry have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to make broadband penetration in Nigeria, one of the priorities of the federal government.

L-R: Gbolahan Awonuga, Secretary of ALTON; Olusegun Salami, senior manager at MTN Nigeria; Emma Okonji, President of NITRA; Emmanuel Ekuwem, CEO of Teledom Group; Lanre Ajayi, President of ATCON and a representative of NCC
L-R: Gbolahan Awonuga, Secretary of ALTON; Olusegun Salami, senior manager at MTN Nigeria; Emma Okonji, President of NITRA; Emmanuel Ekuwem, CEO of Teledom Group; Lanre Ajayi, President of ATCON and a representative of NCC
The umbrella body of all ICT journalists in Nigeria said the government should as a matter of urgency, consider a purposeful implementation of the National Broadband Plan, in such a way that it will attract foreign direct investment, and also help to boost national development.

Today, broadband penetration has struggled to grow from 6 per cent in 2013, to 8 per cent in 2014 and currently stood at 10 per cent penetration, even though the National Broadband Plan is targeting 30 per cent penetration growth in 2018

Speaking in Lagos at the association’s quarterly seminar series, Mr. Emma Okonji, president of NITRA, said owing to the importance of broadband in driving national development, through foreign direct investment, NITRA is not pleased with the slow growth rate in broadband penetration in the country, vis-a-vis the fast growing number of internet users in Nigeria, which currently stood at over 88 million. “Today, broadband penetration has struggled to grow from 6 per cent in 2013, to 8 per cent in 2014 and currently stood at 10 per cent penetration, even though the National Broadband Plan is targeting 30 per cent penetration growth in 2018,” he said. Describing broadband penetration as a herculean, but necessary task, Okonji said NCC must collaborate with the federal government to roll out broadband infrastructure in every nook and cranny of the country. Paramount among the broadband infrastructure, is the rollout of a national backbone infrastructure that will transmit broadband capacities from the shores of the country, to the hinterlands, in order to drive last-mile and middle-mile broadband connectivity. “Nigerians are yearning for ubiquitous broadband access and government must make it available as quickly as possible,” he stressed. Meanwhile, MTN Nigeria has said there is a need for greater investments in the country’s ICT sector, especially in broadband infrastructure. According to Olusegun Salami, senior manager, Transmission Access Planning at MTN Nigeria, investment in broadband would help attain fast broadband penetration that will enhance economic and social growth in a digital economy. “For Nigeria to have ubiquitous broadband penetration, there must be a massive investment and rollout of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology,” Salami said in a presentation titled: ‘Foreign Direct Investment-An Impetus To Achieving Ubiquitous Broadband Penetration.’ He added that low-price smartphones would further drive broadband penetration in the country. Also speaking, Engr. Lanre Ajayi, the president of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) said it’s disheartening that Nigeria could not achieve half of the 30 percent broadband penetration target, even when the country is halfway of the period that was set for the target. The National Broadband Plan 2013-2018 has set a 30 percent target, but currently, broadband penetration stood at 10 percent. “We need to ask questions why Nigeria has not been able to achieve our broadband target, when our neighboring countries like Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Egypt have all attained 30 percent penetration,” a visibly angry Ajayi said. He said it will be wise for government at all levels to remove some of the bottlenecks that inhibit broadband deployment across the country. Some of such bottlenecks, according to him include multiple taxation and vandalism In December 2014, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, former Communications Technology minister stated that the ICT sector has attracted more than USD 6bn in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) during the last three years. The ICT sector now contributes 10.5% to the country’s GDP, or about USD 50bn out of the total GDP of USD 509bn.

We need to ask questions why Nigeria has not been able to achieve our broadband target, when our neighboring countries like Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Egypt have all attained 30 percent penetration

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