Recent news reports that the Federal Government has launched a new National Broadband Plan for 2020-2025 in order to promote the dynamics of the Nigerian Digital Economy.
The launch targeted at achieving 90% broadband penetration by 2025 was inaugurated by the President himself and is in progress at the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy Complex in Abuja. The mandate, however is perceived as difficult in terms of actualization giving the current state of telecoms and broadband infrastructure in the country.
Over the next five years, the government is also planning on connecting all tertiary institutions in the country to the internet. The plan includes a 50 percent reach for secondary schools and 25% for primary schools ensuring that these institutions are located within five kilometers of fibre infrastructure or fixed connection.
The plan also highlights that one general or major hospital per local government area as well as Federal medical centers across the country would have access to internet connectivity. Telecommunication industry stakeholders will increase internet download speed from a minimum of three megabytes per second to 25 megabytes per second in urban areas this year and by 2025 will be delivering a minimum of 10mbps in rural areas.
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President Muhammed Buhari urged mobile network operators to ensure full attainment of the targets set in the new National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 by giving special attention to the unserved and underserved areas when deploying telecom services.
Although there were expressed concerns about the challenges faced by operators in the country, particularly with the vandalism of telecommunications equipment, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami was directed to work with all relevant government agencies to ensure full protection of critical national infrastructure.
With the relentless commitment of the Federal Government in ensuring that all stake holders have the right environment to ensure the successful implantation of the broadband plan, there could be potentially relevant gains to the Nigerian economy in its entirety.
It is no wonder why governments around the world increasingly view broadband as the “fourth utility” alongside water, heating and electricity, many are implementing comprehensive nationwide plans, as well as more tightly focused broadband programs similar to this.
What we stand to gain?
- The power of broadband has been confirmed by recent research, showing that broadband fosters GDP growth, creates jobs and stimulates innovation, while also enabling improvements in education, health care, and other social services. When combined with strategies that ensure the availability and affordability of ICT, these efforts help countries reap the benefits of broadband more quickly and make these services affordable for citizens.
- Increased broadband access associated with higher productivity. The rural areas are underserved by fast unlimited broadband services. Enhancing connectivity with a plan like this can broaden their employment base beyond traditional industries, individual benefits with more job opportunities and communities benefit from higher employment while nations benefit form communities being self-sufficient.
- Affordable and improved broadband access can improve the economies of rural areas that way driving up incomes, improving lifestyles, and reducing the need and desire to move to cities hence decongesting these already overcrowded cities.
To conclude, a higher broadband reach has the transformational power to boost local economies, lift communities out of poverty, and provide a better outlook for growth.