Economy To Contract Over Miss Of 30% Broadband Target By 2018 | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Economy To Contract Over Miss Of 30% Broadband Target By 2018

broadband, VAS
Posted: Aug 31, 2016 at 4:32 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Emmanuel Okwuke

Lagos – Stakeholders in the telecommunications industry have given a damning verdict that Nigeria’s economy may shrink further if the nation fails to meet the 30% broadband target by 2018.

They posited that globally, broadband is now the benchmark for measuring the future of economic development of nations and states.

As the World Bank stated in its recent report that every 10% increase in high speed internet connections, leads to 1.3% increase in economic growth. This means that any nation that focuses efforts in broadband penetration will invariably improve its socio-economic advancement.

The National Broadband Committee set up a few years ago by former President Goodluck Jonathan set the target of 30% penetration by 2018.

Current estimates put the penetration at about 13%. The implication being that the nation has very little time to achieve that target. They predict that going by World Bank projections, rather than expanding, it may lead to the shrinking of the national economy as the telecommunications sector is very critical to the economy.

Speaking at an event, Emmanuel Ekuwem, Chief Executive of Teledom Group, said broadband is a 21st century economic tool.

He said, “For 10 terabytes per second of speed to be sitting idle on the Lagos shores when it is needed in other parts of the country is a great waste. We must find a way to take them to the last mile.”

Other stakeholders who commented on the last mile connectivity say this would make the difference as it would allow for broadband availability and penetration if operators are encouraged to take broadband to all nooks and crannies of the country.

They opined that it would be absolutely impossible for the nation to achieve the 30% target if the last mile access is not addressed.

Funke Opeke, MD/CEO, MainOne, said people at various arms of government should see technology more as an enabler of socio-economic development rather than a natural resource or a means of generating revenue.

She said ICT is growing all over the world and Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind.

“We have to ensure that our environment remains competitive as investors have choices. If we come up with unfavourable policies, they will take their money and investments elsewhere”, she noted.

The MainOne boss said Nigeria for now does not have any choice than to use ICT to drive development just as Singapore did many years ago.

This, she said, can be done by building capacities, hosting data locally and not in foreign countries and encouraging research and development.

Vincent Olatunji, Acting Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), said the country’s greatest challenge is getting broadband to the last mile as only 30-35% of the population has so far been covered. This means there is much work to be done.

He also lamented the unwillingness by operators to share infrastructure which has led to dearth of infrastructure in the country, adding that without adequate infrastructure, it will be impossible to meet the 30% target.

Umar Garba Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said the vision of the commission’s broadband pursuit is to ensure the availability of broadband across the country by promoting the deployment of universally available, fast and reliable network infrastructure.

The EVC said the commission is doing its best to ensure the nation meets the target. It is attracting interest and investment into the sector, licensing infrastructure providers for different zones of the country as well as issuing broadband friendly frequencies to enable speedy deployment.

He noted that the World Bank recognises the socio-economic impact of broadband penetration and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) currently promotes broadband through the broadband commission. Recommendations of this commission make it imperative for any nation that is serious with economic development to address the issue of availability of broadband very seriously.

Danbatta noted that Nigeria wants to be at sync with the World Bank agenda hence the emphasis on broadband deployment.