March 19, 2020 /05:49 PM / by Federal Ministry of
Communications and Digital Economy
Nigeria is the largest mobile telecommunications market in Africa, largely based on rapid development following the successful auction of Digital Mobile Licenses (DML) in 2001. As at December 2019, the market served over 184 Million Mobile lines, with 126 Million of those lines connected to Internet services. According to the NCC, telecommunication services in the country have grown from a tele-density of lower than 1% on fixed wireline and wireless networks before the DML auctions, to reach approximately 89% population coverage for voice services in 2019 primarily based on 2G/2G+ networks.
Internet services in the country are currently provided on 2G, 3G, and increasingly 4G mobile networks. However, though 4G coverage is available to 37% of the population, download speeds in the country are noted to be generally uncompetitive with other countries in the same income bracket.
In recognition of the tremendous economic growth opportunities afforded by the deployment of broadband technologies, Nigeria established its first broadband plan in 2013 for a period of five years. The plan set out to achieve broadband access, defined as minimum download speeds of 1.5Mbps with at least 30% coverage, and an objective of achieving 3G coverage to at least 80% of the population. Given the current state of technology, development and applications of broadband technology, the 30% penetration achievement lags the aspiration of the country as the developed world marches towards widespread deployment of 5G technologies, while the country is yet to achieve significant 4G coverage and adoption.
In the June 12, 2019 Democracy Day address, President Muhammadu Buhari made a pledge to lift 100 Million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years. In October 2019, to further the achievement of this objective, he expanded the mandate of the Ministry of Communications to address the development of the Digital Economy in line with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) with focus on accelerating growth and social inclusion. Digital technology offers Nigeria the opportunity to grow and diversify its economy from the overdependence on oil & gas export proceeds. With a teeming population estimated at 203 Million according to the United Nations (UN), where over half of the population is under 25 years of age, the country is faced with the tremendous challenge to put this largely unemployed and underemployed population to work. Rapid rollout of broadband services will address various socio-economic challenges faced by the country, including the need to grow its economy, create jobs, rapidly expand the tax base, and improve digital literacy and educational standards. This will also address identity management and security challenges through the effective use of technology, increase financial inclusion and deliver a broad range of services to its people to improve the quality of life and work towards attainment of Social Development Goals set by the UN for 2030.
The Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has responded to this mandate with the development of a National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, which was unveiled by the President in November 2019. The strategy identifies eight (8) critical pillars namely; Developmental Regulation, Digital Literacy and Skills, Solid Infrastructure, Service Infrastructure, Digital Services Development & Promotion, Soft Infrastructure, Digital Society & Emerging Technologies and Indigenous Content Promotion & Adoption. The development of the Solid Infrastructure pillar forms the main focus of this Plan. Therefore, the nation faces an urgent imperative to deploy a new Broadband Plan in line with these objectives, which have been proven in other countries to make a significant contribution to lifting citizens out of poverty.
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% of the population by 2025 at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data (i.e. 2% of median income or 1% of minimum wage). In order to achieve these ambitious targets, the plan is focused on recommendations in 4 critical pillars as shown in Fig 1.1:
These objectives are detailed within the plan with priority initiatives highlighted in Table 1.0 below
In an environment of constrained Government spending and significant expenditures focused on electricity and other infrastructure areas of the economy, the plan relies on being led and funded by the private sector to ensure its realization, coupled with appropriate incentives from Government. This would require better alignment of interests between industry players and the Government to achieve optimal success. Government will be required to provide necessary incentives to private sector players and to create a more enabling environment for existing operators and potential new investors to drive additional investment into broadband infrastructure and services in the country. Some of these efforts are already underway with progress towards the finalization of the Executive Order on Critical National Infrastructure Protection being quite advanced and significant positive engagement between the Honourable Minister of Communications & Digital Economy and the Nigerian Governors Forum on agreeing to hold RoW fees at N145/linear meter, contrary to the prevailing non-uniform fee regimes.
Nonetheless, the plan remains ambitious given the Capital requirements estimated at a range of $3.5- $5 Billion to achieve effective execution over the five year period of 2020 - 2025 and can only be achieved if Government and Private sector align and harmonize activities regarding spending and incentives to achieve optimal results. This plan has been developed with the commitment of a wide range of Nigerians with expertise across the public and private sector and assistance from global institutions and industry partners.
The plan also draws on the experience of over 150 countries who have developed similar plans which have been made available in the public domain, as well as significant work by the World Bank, the UN Broadband Commission, ITU and GSMA to assist countries in the development of their broadband plans.
The committee thanks the President, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR and the HM FMoCDE, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami for the opportunity to make this contribution towards ensuring that every Nigerian will have access to a minimum of 10 Mbps broadband connectivity services at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data (2% of median income or 1% of minimum wage) by 2025.
Diligent implementation and adoption of an effective governance framework will ensure the realization of this plan.
Click Here to Download Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 PDF Report