Concerns Grow over Poor Implementation of Broadband Plan


Emma Okonji

An advocacy group, Broadband 2018 Coalition has expressed fears over what it described as poor implementation of the current broadband plan, which seeks to achieve 30 per cent penetration by 2018.

The group has therefore called on the federal government to expedite the implementation of the country’s five year broadband plan developed and submitted by the presidential committee on broadband in 2013.

In a recent statement released by the group, the Coalition said broadband has played a great role in transforming societies and economic opportunities across the world, facilitating education and knowledge dissemination, enabling trade and commerce and contributing to growing entrepreneurship across the world.

It urged that the five-year National Broadband Plan (2013-2018) should be diligently implemented to spur economic growth and help Nigeria prepare for a post-oil economy.

The group cited comments by the Minister, Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations, Mr. Bolaji Akinremi, who said that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is the key to Nigeria’s quest towards attaining a sustainable development by 2030 when he delivered Nigeria’s statement on ‘ICT for Development’ at the UN General Assembly.

The group also noted that Nigeria has declined on the broadband adoption and internet use index: Affordability Drivers Index (ADI), ranking 13th place out of 58 countries surveyed from 12th place ranking.

The Coalition expressed concern at this decline, reiterating the fact that every 10 per cent increase in broadband growth in developing countries, results in a commensurate increase of 1.3 per cent in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and stressed the criticality now that Nigeria is trying to come out of a recession. The body wondered why the government has provided no updates on their plans.

Experts had raised concerns about the slow implementation of the broadband plan, pointing out that the current 21 per cent broadband penetration, showed that Nigeria may not attain the 30 per cent broadband penetration target as enshrined in the broadband plan. This, they noted, is contrary to the views of the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, that Nigeria will attain and surpass the 30 per cent broadband target by 2018.

Shittu had expressed optimism that Nigeria would surpass the 30 per cent broadband penetration. Shittu’s belief was however base on the current growth indices of broadband in Nigeria. As at 2012, broadband penetration was less than 10 per cent, but in 2014, after the introduction of the broadband plan, the penetration increased to 12 per cent and by 2016, it rose to 20 per cent and by 2017, it reached 21 per cent.

But with few months into 2018, Nigerians are of the view that the country may not be able to attain the 30 per cent target.

The National Broadband plan was developed by a Presidential Committee chaired by the National Coordinator, A4AI Nigeria and former Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe and Zenith Bank Chairman, Jim Ovia, supported by major Information Technology (IT) industry players from within and outside Nigeria.