Broadband: FG to begin states’ digital ranking

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The Federal Government is set to begin ranking of individual states of the federation according to their level of development digitally.

The move, which is part of the recommendations of the National Broadband Plan Committee set up by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, is aimed at encouraging each state government to show more commitment to broadband penetration in their respective states.

While the country’s broadband penetration is currently at over 38 per cent, access to the digital tool is said to be concentrated in major cities such as Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Abuja.

Operators have cited difficulties in obtaining Right of Ways in other states as a major obstacle to deploying infrastructure.

Some of the states have also been accused of imposing arbitrary taxes on telecoms infrastructure, thus discouraging operators from rolling out services.

However, the Federal Government, through the ranking, is hoping to change this through the digital ranking.

According to the National Broadband Plan (NBP) 2020-2025, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is to start the ranking from the 4th quarter of this year.

The ranking, which is to be published annually, is expected to be based on indices such as the percentage of connected towers to fibre, percentage of schools connected to fibre; percentage of hospitals connected to fibre; and availability of up-to-date website.

Other indices upon which the states will be ranked include the availability of intranet in the public service; availability of e-Government Applications; E-Government Integration (state and local governments); low tariff on Right of Way; One stop shop for ICT telecoms related approval; support for ICT innovation and entrepreneurship; and support for ICT local content.

Speaking at the launch of the report, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, said broadband penetration was key to reviving the Nigerian economy.

Citing reports from the World Bank and the World Economic Forum, the minister said 10 per cent broadband penetration in any country would improve its GDP by at least 4.6 per cent.

With Coronavirus spreading across the globe and more people living in isolation, the minister said the digital and information communication sector was providing alternatives for people to stay in touch and institutions to provide the needed basic life-saving services to the populace.

He added that the NBP addressed three of the eight priorities that the Federal Government assigned to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and the parastatals under its purview, for implementation.

“These priorities are the implementation of broadband connectivity and execution of a plan to deploy 4G across the country, as well as the development and implementation of a digital economy policy and strategy,” he stated.

The implementation of the plan, he said, would lead to the creation of jobs, improved socioeconomic development, and sustained economic growth, amongst others.

“However, it is important to note that the successful implementation of the plan requires synergy between government and the private sector. As such, this plan has received input from all stakeholders and will be driven by the private sector, with the government providing the enabling environment,” he said.

“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,” the minister added.

According to him, the rapid rollout of broadband services would address various socio-economic challenges faced by the country, including the need to grow its economy, 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,” he added. – New Telegraph

– Mar. 31, 2020 @ 8:25 GMT |

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