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FACT-CHECK: Was broadband penetration 31% when Pantami resumed office as Minister?

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Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami,

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, while inaugurating Broadband Implementation Steering Committee (BISC) to monitor effective implementation of the ‘NBP 2020- 2025’ on Thursday, July 9, 2020 in Abuja, was reportedly claimed that broadband penetration was 31% when he resumed as Minister.

“This (implementation) has been going on for sometimes; the time we started this, the broadband penetration was 31% but based on the report released by the NCC just last week, the broadband penetration now is 40.18%. Within that period, we achieved almost 10% of broadband penetration in less than a year,” Pantami was quoted by Vanguard to have said (Nigeria hits 40.18% broadband penetration – Dr Isa Pantami).

The claim of 31% broadband penetration as at August, 2019, as claimed by the Minister has, therefore, generated heated debates and created confusion in some quarters in the industry, necessitating the decision by TechEconomy.ng to embark on a Fact-Checking Exercise with the poser below:

Question: Was broadband penetration 31% when Minister Pantami resumed as Minister of Communications (now Communications and Digital Economy) in August, 2019?

TechEconomy.ng’s painstaking fact-checking exercise, however, showed that the Minister was wrong and incorrect to have claimed that broadband penetration was 31% when he resumed office as Minister last year. This was because official data showed that penetration had surpassed 35% as at the time the Minister assumed office.

Based on the official statistics available on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as at the evening of July 9 (11:30 pm), shows that broadband penetration was not 31% when Pantami assumed office in August, 2019 as Minister.

Rather broadband penetration had already reached 35.10% as at August, last year. The 31% broadband penetration was achieved by the sector since December, 2018.

It would be recalled that, as at November, 2018, the country had achieved the 30% broadband penetration target set in the National Broadband Plan 2013-2018 and by December of that year, penetration had already reached 31%.

Although, the Minister has shown interests and passion to drive telecoms growth, but the claim that through his efforts, he has added about 10% increase to broadband penetration was misleading; since penetration was already 35.10% when he came on board and now, the figure stand at 40.14%.

By implication, only about 5.04% increase in penetration has been added.

Broadband

Source: NCC website

Stakeholders called on the Minister to always lay claim to what was achieved as achievements under him and not unnecessarily arrogate to himself what achievement that was not achieved by the industry under him, as this is capable of misleading the industry stakeholders.

The objective of TechEconomy Fact-Check team is to ensure that information given inadvertently wrongly or the one given deliberately to distort fact for undue personal credit and which is capable of confusing industry stakeholders are kept straight for ensuring industry accountability and correct information dissemination.