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Bridge infrastructure gap, up online demand, build capacity to drive NBP, Google tells FG

Leading global search conglomerate, Google has listed three key reforms that must be in place if Nigeria will move closer to achieving the 2018 National Broadband Plan (NBP) target.

The plan adopted before the end of last administration, seeks to achieve 30 per cent penetration and 80 per cent growth in Internet activities in Nigeria.

According to Google, the federal government must attempt to conquer before the end of this year, the bridging of observed infrastructure gap in the sub sector; raising the demand for online activities amongst Nigerians and build the capacities of sector professionals who are to drive the campaign.

Sector analysts say as soon as the NBP is fully implemented, services would improve greatly in the country because the broadband is a faster medium to get access to the Internet as compared to the dial-up. It is faster in terms of data transfer, upload and download, and the connectivity is much better with files, images, and data are transmitted much faster.

No doubt, the tempo with which the Ministry of Communications during the past administration pursued the Plan seemed to have been watered down since the appointment of the present Minister of Communication.

It would be recalled that the current Minister, Alhaji Adebayo Shittu had on appointment as Minister said, he has little or no knowledge of the sector but ‘he will try his best’.

This at that time prompted some sector analysts to begin to speculate possible lull in the drive to broadband penetration.

No doubt, there has been a snail speed development around the implementation of the broadband plan, with both the Ministry of Communications and the Nigerian Communications (NCC) appearing to be lukewarm about the entire process. This is coupled with various infrastructural challenges militating against ubiquitous Internet access in the country.

Several experts including the Country Manager of Google Nigeria, Juliet Ehimuan have continue to argue that broadband plan highlighted and proffered practical solutions to challenges confronting operators in the quest of enthroning ubiquitous broadband services in the country.

Some of the teething obstacles confronting the progress of the Plan include high cost of procuring the Right of Ways (RoW); double taxation, vandalism, forex access which is currently hobbling  acquisition of machineries and digital equipment for the building of infrastructures.

to ensure deeper penetration of Internet in the country.

Only recently, the Association of Licenced Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ALTON) in a letter to the Minister and NCC, made a passionate appeal for the addressees to plead on their behalf before the CBN to grant members easy access to forex so that the NBP will not be in danger.

As at the filing of this analysis, there is yet no sign that the request may receive attention.