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FG’s broadband plan threatened as penetration falls to 40.91%

Pantami urges officials to tackle insecurity with data
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami

THE Federal Government’s plan to achieve 90 per cent broadband penetration by 2023 in the country is under threat as penetration fell to 40.91 per cent in February 2022 from 42.06 per cent in February 2021, according to data on the Nigerian Communications Commission’s portal.

In June 2021, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, had said the Federal Government hoped to achieve 90 per cent broadband penetration by 2023.

He had said, “We developed the National Broadband Plan 2020-2030 which targets a 90 per cent penetration rate in terms of population and a 70 per cent rate in terms of our total land mass within the next two years. It also targets a speed of 25mbps for urban areas while a 10mbps speed is targeted for rural areas.

“So far, we have been able to achieve a 10 per cent increase just within a year which brings the success rate to 45 per cent. This is unprecedented and it is because of the President’s commitment to a digital Nigeria and support in approving our policies.”

Similarly, in its ‘Nigerian National Broadband Plan: 2020 – 2025,’ the Federal Government had disclosed that it intended to increase coverage by 90 per cent by 2025.

It said, “The new Broadband Plan is designed to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria of a minimum 25Mbps in urban areas, and 10Mbps in rural areas, with effective coverage available to at least 90 per cent of the population by 2025 at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data (i.e. 2 per cent of median income or 1 per cent of minimum wage).”\

Rather than rise, however, broadband penetration has fallen year-on-year from 80.28 million (equivalent to 42.06 per cent) in February 2021 to 78.08 million (40.91 per cent) in February 2022 as a result of the Federal Government’s directive to link SIMs to National Identification Numbers (NINs).

Before the SIM-NIN policy led to a SIM sale ban by the Federal Government in December 2020, broadband penetration had been higher. It was 87.68 million (45.93 per cent) in October 2021. But after implementation of the policy began, broadband penetration fell to 81.95 million (42.93 per cent) in January 2021.

One of the reasons for low broadband penetration is inadequate telecommunication infrastructure, according to the NCC.

In a report by The PUNCH, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, had said, “So, the commission is committed to ensuring inclusiveness by ensuring the provision of affordable and pervasive access to the Internet as emphasised by the International Telecommunication Union and the United Nations.

“We are aware that until commensurate infrastructure is deployed in the country, the country may not hit the required target necessary for the desired economic development.”

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