Danbatta: Ubiquitous Broadband Will Enhance Socio-economic Growth


Emma Okonji

The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta has said that ubiquitous broadband spread across the country will boost socio-economic development and growth in the country.

The NCC boss has also assured Nigerians of government’s efforts to surpass the 30 per cent broadband penetration target by 2018.

Danbatta made the pledge sequel to doubts expressed by industry players that Nigeria may not achieve the broadband target by 2018. He cited poor implementation of the broadband plan, since its inception in 2013.
The federal government, through the Ministry of Communications, had in 2013, released a five-year national broadband plan for Nigeria.

The target was to achieve 30 per cent broadband penetration by 2018, with the intents and purposes to digitally empower Nigerians to have full benefits of eCommerce business by having access to the internet at the speed of light, and at relatively low cost.

While most Nigerians are indifferent about broadband accessibility, cost and speed, Danbatta insisted that government has done so much to boost broadband penetration in Nigeria, adding that further efforts from government would lead to ubiquitous broadband access across the country, which he said, the country needed to enhance her socio-economic development and broadband roadmap.

Highlighting the Commissions’ programme towards broadband penetration achievement, at a recent technology event in Lagos, Danbatta said: “Broadband has become a key priority of the 21st Century, and its life-changing capability for enabling socio-economic growth makes it an essential tool for empowering people, creating an environment that nurtures technology and service innovations, which triggers positive change in general business processes.

“It is believed that increased adoption and use of broadband in the next decade and beyond will be driven by the extent to which broadband-supported services and applications are not only made available to, but are also relevant and affordable for consumers.

“Consequently, the Nigerian Communications Commission made broadband penetration the flagship of its 8-Point Agenda. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and UNESCSO had since 2010, established the Broadband Commission whose reports have shown that broadband access in every country is key to any development agenda. Our agenda aligns with the importance accorded to broadband across the world.”

Broadband is a catalyst for social and economic transformation in this era of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). Nigerian’s target for broadband penetration by 2018 is 30 per cent, and the Commission recognises its prime responsibility in the actualisation of the national broadband plan target, Danbatta added.

He stressed that while the broadband penetration is estimated at 21 per cent, the Commission is convinced of surpassing the 30 per cent broadband penetration by 2018, through various measures put in place such as: development of regulatory framework for broadband penetration; setting up of broadband implementation monitoring committee; issuance of wireless broadband license; and enabling more wireless broadband frequency and services on offer.

Expatiating on the measures put in place to achieve the feat, Danbatta explained that the Commission has been able to articulate a regulatory framework that will enable strategic and systematic licensing and deployment of broadband infrastructure across the country through licensing of InfraCos.

He also said a broadband implementation monitoring committee has been established within the Commission to ensure proper assessment and regular appraisals of broadband infrastructure deployment by the InfraCos.

He said the process of licensing infrastructure service providers has commenced in the remaining five geo-political zones under the open access model, and that the recent bidding process for 2.6GHz spectrum, which saw MTN Nigeria Ltd emerge the winner of six slots of 10MHz each, is a clear determination of NCC to issue wireless broadband licenses to eligible operators.

He explained that the Commission has initiated processes for licensing of more broadband services on the 5.4GHz spectrum band, and has opened the process for the allocation of frequencies in the 70/80 GHz band (E-Band).

Speaking on cybersecurity, Danbatta said the Commission also played a key role in its collaboration with law enforcement agencies, particularly the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) towards the establishment of the Nigeria Computer Emergency Response Team (ngCERT) coordination centre, which serves as the single national point of contact for international coordination of cybersecurity incidents in Nigeria.