Stakeholders in the Information Communication and Technology, ICT, industry have expressed dissatisfaction with the slow pace of broadband penetration in the country.
Speaking at the quarterly seminar of Nigeria Information and Communications Technology Reporters Association, NITRA, held in Lagos, it was agreed that to achieve the national broadband plan, the federal government and Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, must lay down an enabling environment for broadband infrastructure to penetrate every nook and cranny of the country.
The seminar with the theme ‘Foreign Direct Investment – An Impetus to Achieving Ubiquitous Broadband Penetration’ had stakeholders analysing the way forward towards achieving the targeted 30 percent broadband connectivity by 2018.
President, Association of Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria, Engr. Lanre Ajayi, said Nigerians are yearning for a fast internet as the industry is not happy with the level of broadband penetration.
He said the country was not doing well in that aspect as someone is not doing its job well compared to Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Egypt, that attained 30 percent penetration compared to Nigeria’s 10 percent.
Ajayi, however, commended NITRA for the seminar which he said was an opportunity to access the industry and a need for investigative reporting to know if the industry is doing well.
Also, another stakeholder and ALTON’s Executive Secretary, Mr. Gbolahan Awonuga, said the challenges faced by the country would not allow the 30 percent penetration of broadband, describing power, multiple taxation and vandalism as the major issues hindering the penetration.
He said if the challenges are not addressed, tough times await the industry, especially the tax law signed by the former finance minister which would make things difficult for telecom operators.
In his welcome address, NITRA’s president, Emma Okonji, explained that internet and broadband had been globally acknowledged as the foundation for the transformation of a knowledge-based economy and the available broadband infrastructure would help attain fast penetration that would enhance economic and social growth in a digital economy.
According to him, “It was based on these premises that former President Goodluck Jonathan, on September 20, 2012, inaugurated the presidential committee for a national broadband strategy and roadmap, with the former Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Engr. Ernest Ndukwe, as chairman of the committee and the Chairman of Zenith Bank, Mr. Jim Ovia, as co-chairman. Supported by 15 core members representing various stakeholder groups, the committee came up with a five-year National Broadband Plan (2013-2018) that was approved by the former president.
“Today, broadband penetration has struggled to grow from six percent in 2013, to eight percent in 2014 and currently stands at 10 percent penetration, even though the National Broadband Plan is targeting 30 percent penetration growth in 2018.
“As the industry’s watchdog, NITRA is not pleased with the slow growth rate in broadband penetration in the country, vis-a-vis the fast growing number of internet users in Nigeria, which currently stands at over 88 million.
“NITRA urged the federal government and the NCC to consider a purposeful implementation of the National Broadband plan in such a way that it will attract foreign direct investment and also help to boost national development. To achieve this herculean, but necessary task, NCC must collaborate with the federal government to roll out broadband infrastructure in every nook and cranny of the country.
“Paramount among the broadband infrastructure is the rollout of a national backbone that will transmit broadband capacities from the shores of the country to the hinterlands, in order to drive last-mile and middle-mile broadband connectivity.”
He, however, advised the federal government that Nigerians were yearning for ubiquitous broadband access and government must make it available as quickly as possible.

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