By Emmanuel Elebeke
APPREHENSION over the possibility of the Federal government achieving its target of a five-fold increase in broadband penetration by 2018 was cleared last week in Lagos by the Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson while answering questions bordering on realizing broadband penetration in the country.
Johnson who reassured the international audience during Ministerial Platform last week in Lagos at the forum on accelerating nationwide broadband access in Nigeria, said government was committed in achieving broadband penetration within the target time.
The forum was organized by the Broadband Rights Advocacy Network Africa in partnership with Openmedia Group and Atlantic Telecoms and media with the theme, ‘Towards widespread accessibility and affordability of Broadband in Nigeria’.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry, she went on, has the potentials of raising its contributions to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the present 8 per cent to 11 per cent, if the industry achieves its targets of a five-fold increase in broadband penetration by 2017.
She said that the Federal government was committed to making sure that every Nigeria has access to the internet in 2018.
“The broadband plans have not changed. We are monitoring everything. The broadband council has been working. We just have to move faster. Countries that have broadband plans are more likely to meet up with their target. It is work in progress” she assured.
According to Johnson, the ministry was working with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the broadband Council to deepen broadband penetration in the country, especially in rural communities, through infrastructure roll out.
“2018 target is achievable. We are realistic about the target. We are aware of the challenges. We are dealing with policy challenges. We are discussing with the State governments on right of way issue”, she added.
With the faithful execution of the broadband plan, the 2018 broadband penetration targets can be achieved but noted that all hands must be on desk.
To accelerate infrastructure roll out, she informed that the Ministry was getting all the States to reduce cost of right of way , adding that major reductions have been secured in Lagos State, and Oyo respectively.
With optimism, she told the gathering that with increased broadband penetration and access, the country wil do more to contribute to Gross Domestic Product. Accordingly, she explained that the National Broadband Strategy and Road map would articulate how we will deliver these broadband targets, local government by local, and state by state.
While calling on state governors to encourage telecoms operators in their respective states, to help facilitate broadband penetration across the state. She said the ability of federal government to achieve fast broadband roll out, lies in the hands of state governments.
According to Johnson, if state governors allow telecoms infrastructure to be built quickly at reduced cost in their states, it would help deliver all the benefits of broadband in the country before 2017.