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Minister responds to our story, gives 3 months deadline to NBP Committee

Following Business Hilights online publications Friday, January 3, 2020, lead story on the oversight of not giving members of the new National Broadband Plan (NBP) (2020-2025) development committee a delivery deadline (https://businesshilights.com.ng/lack-of-deadline-for-new-nbp-2020-2025-committee-worrisome/), the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has given the committee; first quarter of this year to turn in their report.

Recall that on Tuesday, December 17, 2019, the Minister inaugurated the new NBP 2020-2025 development committee to among other things; develop a new NBP that will be the guiding template for the development of this very important area of telecommunications.

The Committee is also to take a critical look at where we are after painstaking review of the 2013-2018 phase and the status of penetration now. The members are enjoined to also examine the challenges with a view to proffering solutions thereto. They should also look at the position of growing and emerging technologies among others. The new NBP has the collaboration and support of the United Kingdom (UK) Government.

Dr Pantami gave the delivery deadline weekend at a media parley and press briefing which took place at Treasure Suites, Maitama, Abuja.

According to him, the 2020-2025 Broadband Plan is expected to be ready within the first quarter of 2020 and the plan is to ensure that all unserved and underserved areas have access to broadband services. For this, he said the Federal Government and the Ministry are encouraging many institutions to host their data in Nigeria as he promised to continue the advocacy.

The new NBP 2020 -2025 is a sequel to the first NBP 2013 – 2018. The new 25-member NBP Committee has Ms. Funke Opeke, Managing Director/CEO of Main One Cable Company Limited, as Chairperson with Dr. Bashir Gwandu as Co-Chairman. Engr. Ubale Maska, the Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as the Secretary to the Committee. Maska will be supported by four staff of the Ministry in the secretariat.

The inauguration of the new Committee is a follow up to the launch of the National Policy for Digital Economy and Strategy by President Muhammadu Buhari, in November 2019. The Policy has eight pillars among which are Developmental Regulation, Digital Literacy and Skills, Solid Infrastructure, Service Infrastructure, Digital Services Development and Production, Digital Society Emerging Technologies and Indigenous Content Development.

Addressing the Committee members at the inauguration, the Minister told the Committee members to lay emphasis on the third pillar of the National Policy which accommodates broadband and data centre, key components for economic growth, and promotion of digital economy. The Committee’s work, he explained, will address significantly one of the eight pillars and the remaining seven will also run as one of this all important pillar.

“The work of this Committee will go a very long way in supporting the national digital economic policy and strategy for the Federal Government because digital economy is strategically dominating the world economy today.”

According to Pantami, members of the Committee were selected based on their competence, integrity and professionalism. “In all these, Nigeria comes first,” the Minister averred.

Business Hilights gathered aside, Ms. Opeke, Gwandu and Maska, the 25-member Committee also has representatives from the academia, NCC, Galaxy Backbone, MTN, Google, NiRA, Defence Space Administration, National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Limited, Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), GSM Association among others.

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