FG Urged to Expedite Full Implementation of Broadband Plan


Emma Okonji

The Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), the umbrella body of all computer professionals in the country, has called on the federal government to expedite the full implementation of the country’s five year broadband plan that was developed and submitted by the presidential committee on broadband in 2013.

The need to fully implement the broadband plan was part of the issues raised and deliberated upon during the 26th annual conference of NCS in Abuja recently, which was contained in the communique issued at the end of conference.

Presenting the communique to the media in Lagos recently, the President of NCS, Prof. Adesola Aderounmu said the five year National Broadband Plan (2013-2018), should be diligently implemented to spur economic growth and enable broadband deployment to achieve national safety and security. Aderounmu also emphasised the need for the immediate enactment of the critical National Infrastructure Bill, which he said, would help deepen broadband penetration.

Aderounmu who expressed concern over the slow development in broadband penetration in the country, said the full implementation of the plan would surpass government’s projection of increasing broadband penetration from its current 10 per cent penetration level, to 30 per cent penetration level by 2018.

He said availability of broadband would create additional job opportunities for youths, since broadband has the potential of enabling entire new industries and introducing significant efficiencies into education delivery, health care provision, energy management, ensuring public safety, government/citizen interaction and the overall organisation and dissemination of knowledge. He re-echoed the general statement that had been empirically proven that every 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration in developing countries, results in a commensurate increase of 1.3 per cent in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He further explained that the recession period currently faced by the country, is as a result of the country’s inability to export products in exchange of foreign currencies, since the continued drop in the global prices of oil that hitherto was the main stay of the Nigerian economy. He maintained that sufficient broadband in the country would spur youths into developing software that could be traded outside the shores of the country in exchange of foreign currencies.

Owing to the importance of broadband in developing countries, the federal government in September 2012, inaugurated a Presidential Committee on Broadband, to come up with a national broadband policy and roadmap for the country. The committee, which was co-chaired by the former Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe and the chairman of Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia, supported by 15 core Information Technology (IT) experts, submitted the broadband plan in 2013, which was adopted by government, but its full implementation has been an issue, a situation that has led to the crawling of broadband penetration since 2013.

The communique, which also raised other burning issues, called for capacity building of security agencies, the judiciary and related stakeholder in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), cybersecurity, digital forensics and related expertise to understand and combat the 21st century national security challenges.

The communique also called on government and other stakeholders to aggressively begin to develop and support youth capacity building, career development and research initiatives in cybersecurity and plan towards the development of a cybersecurity economic sub-sector that is youth driven, local and micro, small and medium enterprise based.

According to the communique, the National Cybercrime Advisory Council, should work closely with NCS and other stakeholders to implement the Cybercrime Act 2015 and the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy. National security measures should be balanced with privacy considerations and stakeholders should work towards the passing of Data Privacy and Lawful Interception Laws, the communique added.