DELEGATES at last month’s Broadband Forum organised by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO) in Abuja were updated on the robust plans being put in place to transform Nigeria to a knowledge economy through the rollout of broadband infrastructure.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr Eugene Juwah, said that during the five-year broadband implementation plan (2013-2018), Nigeria was set to achieve the following: licence seven infrastructure companies (InfraCos) to rollout metropolitan fibre across the country; auction available slots in the 2.3GHz, 2.6GHz and 700MHz band for wireless broadband access; implement cost-based pricing model and price caps for leased transmission capacity to drive affordability; implement cost based pricing model and price caps for leased transmission capacity to drive affordability; implement open non-discriminatory access to broadband infrastructure for all service providers; open new high capacity spectrum bands for licensing (70/80GHz); interconnect all Internet Exchange Points in Nigeria with fibre optic cable transmission; provide incentives to drive the rollout of broadband infrastructure; increase wireless broadband access across the country.
Representing the EVC was the Executive Commissioner for Stakeholder Management, Dr Okechukwu Itanyi. “The catalytic role and contribution of broadband services to an economy is well documented. Some of these are its positive impact on education delivery, health care provision, energy management, security, and information dissemination,” Juwah said.
“For Nigeria, the lack of a robust fixed network infrastructure and the need to rapidly develop the infrastructure to provide universal broadband services required a coordinated national approach. This led to the crafting of a National Broadband Plan covering the period 2013 to 2018.”
Nigeria’s national broadband target includes achieving a 30 per cent broadband penetration rate by 2018 from 6.1 per cent in 2012; a coordinated strategy towards the provision of a broadband infrastructure ecosystem in the country; and development strategies based on the peculiarities of the different geographical areas to enable the deployment of broadband infrastructure.
The Secretary-General of the (CTO), Professor Tim Unwin commended Juwah “for the commitment towards the transformation of the Nigerian economy through implementation of appropriate broadband deployment strategies for the country especially the National Broadband Plan (NBP) 2013-2018”.
However, he stressed that if the contributions of broadband to the economy must be impactful, it must be for all. Unwin urged Commonwealth countries to harness resources to make broadband available to their citizens, especially in the un-served and underserved areas, because of the impact this would have on their lives.
The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Communications Technology, Dr. Tunji Olaopa, who chaired the opening ceremony, said the theme was well thought out considering the fact that broadband was the catalyst for achieving a knowledge based economy the global community is pursuing. “It potentially influences the entire economy and as a general-purpose platform used as a key input across various sectors ranging from health, commerce, education, banking,” he said.