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Nigeria needs full implementation of broadband plan – Ndukwe

By on November 6, 2015

Optimistic that Nigeria will meet and even surpass the projected 30 per cent Broadband penetration by 2018, as contained in the National Broadband Plan, a former Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Ernest Ndukwe has said the current indices about Nigeria’s fast internet penetration is an inaction that the projection is achievable.

He however said Nigeria must fully and properly implement the recommendations of the National Broadband Plan, in order to achieve the 30 per cent penetration.

Ndukwe who spoke with THISDAY in Lagos, said if properly implemented, it is capable of launching Nigeria into a data enabled country.

“I will advise the next Minister of Communications Technology to look at the plan and see how it could be further adopted,” Ndukwe said.

Ndukwe who was the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Broadband, said former President Goodluck Jonathan, who approved the Broadband Plan before he left office, did not subject the report of the plan to any ministerial committee before the approval. This, he said, underscored the importance of the Broadband Plan to Nigeria, in driving broadband penetration.

“He (Jonathan) saw the quality of the report and approved it and the then Minister of Communications Technology,  Dr. Omobola Johnson, took it up for immediate implementation,” Ndukwe said.

The five year broadband plan, which runs from 2013 to 2018, projects the attainment of 30 per cent broadband penetration in the country by 2018, up from the current 10 per cent penetration, and I see that is doable. The reason is that the variables to achieve and surpass the 30 per cent projection are in place and what we just need is full and proper implementation of the broadband plan, he said.

According to him, telecoms operators should be encouraged to have a minimum of 3G base stations in all their base stations around the country. That will be a sure way of attaining and surpassing 30 per cent broadband penetration by 2018.

“I say this because of the speed of 3G network, which the operators are using, and most of the operators are even considering 4G network, which has a much supper speed than the 3G network.

Above all, is the need for a broadband cable infrastructure across the country, from one state to another. So if we have optic fiber cables connected to all base stations, the speed will definitely increase.

“Again, for us to sustain fast broadband penetration, government needs to give speedy approval to Right of Ways (RoWs), without charging so much for it. When this is achieved, there will be fast rollout of broadband services across states without any form of hinderance. But the moment state governments begin to impose all manners of fees for RoWs, then it will definitely slowdown the speed of network expansion, and broadband penetration will also be affected,” Ndukwe added.

He suggested that the government should take it upon itself to provide broadband cable infrastructure, and called on the Lagos State Government to take the lead in providing broadband cable infrastructure all over Lagos.

He said, once that is achieved, data penetration will explode and Lagos is a good place to show an example of what is possible and other states will emulate.

Ndukwe who expressed the belief that ubiquitous broadband penetration would turnaround the fortune of the country for good, said while he was Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, before retiring in 2010, his focus was on the combination of voice and data, even though the commission was bent on growing the voice market, which today, has surpassed the 150 million mark.

“During my days as the EVC of NCC, I launched what was called “Fibre Without Borders, which was focused on data and internet and we also laid the foundation for internet growth, through the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG),” Ndukwe said.