NCC ex-boss calls for review of National Broadband Plan
Dr. Ernest Ndukwe The rather slow implementation of the National Broadband Plan (NBP), has necessitated the need for the Ministry of Communications to review the process.
According to a telecom expert and former chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr Ernest Ndukwe, the NBP 2013-2018, needed to be reviewed and updated to meet, among others, current technological advancements, digital literacy and economic growth. Ndukwe made the call at a Workshop organised by World Wide Web Foundation and Paradigm Initiative, on Closing the Digital Gender Gap and Mainstreaming ICTs into Women’s Rights Policy and Programme Frameworks in Nigeria, held in Abuja. In 2013, the Federal Government through the Ministry of Communications Technology, under the leadership of Dr.
Omobola Johnson, had set a five year NBP 2013 to 2018 that will see the spread of Internet by 80 per cent and Broadband penetration deepened by 30 per cent. But The Guardian investigation showed that only about 35 per cent of the plan has been achieved thus far in the last four years, as there are still challenges with getting eGovernment; Telemedicine; eSecurity; e-Education, and a host of other rights as provided for in the NBP. Although, there are about 90 million Internet users in Nigeria, mostly on the narrow band, the country’s broadband penetration slows at 22 per cent.
The current Internet penetration wobbles at 47.9 per cent, even with five submarine cable systems in the country. Ndukwe, who is the current national coordinator of A4AI Coalition Nigeria, recommended the constitution of an apolitical committee that would be saddled with the responsibilities of updating the NBP with activities that would pave way for connecting the urban poor and those in the rural settlements. The emphasis on such committee being apolitical, he maintained, is to avoid the truncation that usually occurred with the transition in governments, especially from one political party to another.
Ndukwe’s position echoes the recommendation contained in a policy brief on the inadequacy of the NBP prepared and published by Paradigm Initiative.
He also spoke on the need to replicate efforts of the broadband plan to deliver fast, reliable and affordable Internet access by federating units of Nigeria, adding that the States and Local Government must commit to take similar measures alongside the Federal Government for meaningful results.