The Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Mal. Kashifu Inuwa has asserted that broadband access should not be a luxury, but a necessity for economic and social development, stressing that broadband offers unprecedented opportunities for economic growth by providing access to information, connecting people to business and opening new markets.
Mal. Inuwa, who was speaking at a virtual structured engagement with key stakeholders in the Nigerian Telecom & ICT sector on the new national broadband plan 2020 – 2025, yesterday, also asserted that real broadband must deliver data download speeds across Nigeria, with a minimum of 25Mbps in urban areas, and 10Mbps in rural areas, with effective coverage available to at least 90% of the population and penetration rate of 70% by 2025, at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data (2% of median income or 1% of minimum wage).
“Broadband penetration is transforming the conventional economy and enabling innovation economy. In terms of human development, it impacts almost every aspect of life from education to health, it supports enterprise and entrepreneurship and unlocks the digital economy which reduces extreme poverty and enhances social inclusion. Thus, it is instructive, all Nigerians have access to it,” he said while speaking on the topic ‘Aggregating the potentials of the sub-sector to meet the new broadband set target of 70%’.
Quoting a study by Deloitte, which concludes that providing internet access to developing countries could boost productivity worldwide by 25%, generate $2.2 trillion in GDP, create 140 million new jobs, and lift 160 million people out of poverty, Mal. Inuwa believes that the significance and impact of realizing the 70% Broadband penetration will ultimately, contribute to attaining such feats in Nigeria.
Even though a lot has been achieved so far towards broadband penetration in Nigeria, the need for innovative models to bridge access gaps is vital. Investments in telecommunications have been slow in underserved areas due to lack of demand which will have guarantee returns on investment, but with the rising demand for internet access and broadband services as well as the persistent efforts of Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, towards providing an enabling policy for investment, new opportunities are being created for more investments in the telecommunications sector.
Meanwhile, the NITDA DG has disclosed initiatives being put in place by the agency to stimulate local demands that will further improve broadband penetration in Nigeria.
Some of these initiatives that are targeted at facilitating the achievement of 70% broadband penetration target by 2025 are:
- Encouraging free domain registration for public institutions and SMEs through Nigerian Internet Registration Association (NIRA).
- Facilitating Digital Literacy Training and Awareness, Digital content creation and indigenous language translation.
- Effective digitization of Government services (e-Government) as well as other e-services.
- Deployment of IT intervention projects that facilitate Digital Literacy and Skills development.
- Development of Nigeria Government Enterprise Architecture(NGEA) and Nigerian e-Govt Interoperability framework (Ne-GIF).
- Funding capacity building & Innovation initiatives to facilitate digital jobs creation.
- Establishment of National Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR).
- Establishment of National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (NDIEC) among others.