…. Says Policy to Accelerate  Broadband Infrastructure Roll-Out

Professor Isa Pantami, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, has disclosed that Nigeria is giving the final touches to its proposed National Dig Once Policy, hinting that there is a plan to unveil the policy before the end of 2022.

Pantami made the disclosure in Lagos at the just concluded fourth edition of Policy Implementation Assisted Forum (PIAFo) on Dig Once Policy and Fibre Strategy in Nigeria with the theme: Laying the Foundation for Ubiquitous Broadband for Nigeria’s Economic Breakthrough.

He stated at the event organized by Business Metrics Nigeria that the policy will facilitate seamless deployment of fibre optic as a backbone broadband infrastructure across the country to bridge the digital divide and boost the digital economy.

Represented by Engineer Usman Aliyu, Secretary of the Broadband Implementation Steering Committee (BISC) and Head, of Wireless Network at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Pantami said the policy is recognized in the Nigeria Broadband Plan 2020-2025 as a critical element to attaining 70% broadband penetration by 2025.

According to him, the policy, which seeks to promote the installation of ready-made buried fibre conduit for seamless fibre deployment in the country, had received necessary inputs coming from robust engagements with relevant stakeholders for the effective realization of its essence.

He said: “Some of the objectives of the policy are provisioning of shared infrastructure for existing internet service providers and entrants; promotion of installation of ready-made buried fibre conduit for broadband deployment; and reduction of the barriers to entry for Internet Service Providers.

“Others are to promote coordination and reduce the number of excavations and disruptions caused due to fibre installation works; to lower the cost of broadband internet service deployment; to promote the joint installation of infrastructures in a single phase and avoid unnecessary future digging as well as encouraging infrastructure, and to promote a unified and affordable pricing regime across the federation for Right of Ways.”

He also said that once the policy becomes operational in Nigeria, there would be a lower cost of repair and maintenance of installed fiber infrastructure and a lower cost of broadband internet service deployment.

While delivering a paper on Fibre Infrastructure Rollout Ecosystem Development to Reach 60% Fibre to Site at 120,000km by 2025, Ashwani Mishra, ICT Director at Huawei Technologies recommended ways Nigeria can achieve fibre infrastructure targets by 2025 as stipulated in the NBP 2020-2025.

According to him, the Dig Once Implementation Council (DOIC), as Special Purpose Vehicle, should clarify the fibre strategy, boundary and scope of work of each stakeholder and publish quarterly progress reports.

He also encouraged Nigeria to put in place a mechanism to clarify the cooperation between the DOIC and Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) to help drive the policy adoption to the state level and as such, redefine the issue of Right of Way (RoW).

Other recommendations made by Mishra include stimulating demand by making provision of ICT infrastructure a standard requirement for new buildings to drive extension of fibre everywhere in the country; making duct a standard specification for road reconstruction and new buildings, uniform RoW charges and establishment of service level agreements for (SLA) for each department or ministry involved in the process of approval.

Earlier in his remarks, Omobayo Azeez, Convener and Lead Executive of PIAFo, emphasised that fibre is critical to achieving the 70% broadband penetration Nigeria is currently targeting.

He said there is a need for all stakeholders, especially state and local governments to embrace and domesticate the policy in their respective states.

He said: “According to the National Broadband Plan, we are targeting a network of 90,000km and 120,000km of non-overlapping fibre infrastructure by 2023 and 2025 respectively from just 40,000km in 2020.

“As of the end of 2021, data by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) indicated that total fibre Optics so far deployed in Nigeria stood at 74,947km, including 47,128.7km on-land and 27,818.3km submarine.

“This indicates that we still have a long way to go to attain pervasive broadband infrastructure that will deliver high-speed internet to power our digital economy dream. However, dedicated efforts on dig once policy will help us to get there faster and with moderated cost implication.”

He stressed that the fourth edition of PIAFo Summit was designed as a dialogue point to engender clear policy direction and ultimately stimulate the successful implementation of Dig Once Policy and Fibre roll-out in Nigeria to further empower the economy.

The stakeholders’ forum on Dig Once Policy and Fibre Strategy Implementation in Nigeria was endorsed and supported by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Huawei Technologies Company Nigeria Limited, NgCom Networks Limited, IHS Towers Nigeria, FibreOne Broadband Limited, Association of Telecommunication Company of Nigeria (ATCON), Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), and the Nigerian Communications Commissions (NCC).


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