The new Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025, has clearly shown that the country’s focus in the next five years is on expansion on the present fourth generation technology (4G).
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, clarified on this in the recent report submitted by the Committee made up of 32 industry experts and was chaired by Funke Opeke.
On the 16th of December 2019, the Minister inaugurated the Committee to draft a National Broadband Plan (NBP) for the country to be implemented within the next five years (2020-2025).
The committee’s report which was submitted on Tuesday, February 18, 2020, contains plan to “deliver data download speeds across Nigeria, a minimum of 25Mbps in urban areas, and 10Mbps in rural areas, with effective coverage available to at least 90% of the population by 2025 at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data (2% of median income or 1% of minimum wage)”.
In his special speech as contained in the report, Pantami, said:
“The NBP addresses 3 of the 8 priorities that the Federal Government assigned to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and the parastatals under its purview, for implementation. These priorities are the implementation of broadband connectivity and execution of a plan to deploy 4G across the country, as well as the development and implementation of a digital economy policy and strategy”.
This is a clear departure from the conspiracy theory in certain quarters alleging that the country has commenced the deployment of fibre optic cables to drive fifth generation network technology (5G).
The Minister continues, “The development of a Broadband Plan aligns with global best practice and the constitution of the Committee is in line with the powers of the minister as stated in Section 23(a) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003- the Minister shall be responsible for ‘the formulation, determination and monitoring of the general policy for the communications sector in Nigeria with a view to ensuring, amongst others, the utilization of the sector as a platform for the economic and social development of Nigeria.’
“…Broadband supports the development of the digital economy and a focus on growing the National Digital Economy will also improve and diversify the nation’s traditional economy.
“This new broadband plan is designed to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria, a minimum of 25Mbps in urban areas, and 10Mbps in rural areas, with effective coverage available to at least 90% of the population by 2025 at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data (2% of median income or 1% of minimum wage).
“The implementation of the Plan will lead to creation of jobs, improved socio-economic development and sustained economic growth, amongst others. However, it is important to note that the successful implementation of the Plan requires synergy between government and the private sector.
“As such, this Plan has received input from all stakeholders and will be driven by the private sector, with the government providing the enabling environment.
“As the President directed, I invite all stakeholders to fully support the implementation of the Plan as we seek to position our country to enjoy the benefits that ubiquitous nationwide broadband will provide”.
Nigeria is the largest mobile telecommunications market in Africa, largely based on rapid development following the successful auction of Digital Mobile Licenses (DML) in 2001.
As at January 2020, the market served over 186 Million Mobile lines, with over 126 Million of those lines connected to Internet services.
According to the NCC, telecommunication services in the country have grown from a tele-density of lower than 1% on fixed wireline and wireless networks before the DML auctions, to reach approximately 89% population coverage for voice services in 2019 primarily based on 2G/2G+ networks.
Internet services in the country are currently provided on 2G, 3G, and increasingly 4G mobile networks.
However, though 4G coverage is available to 37% of the population, download speeds in the country are noted to be generally uncompetitive with other countries in the same income bracket.