Nigeria’s Communications Minister Dr. Isa Ali Pantami

Nigeria’s communications minister Isa Ali Pantami has revealed that broadband penetration in that country is expected grow to 90% in the next five years. This is while broadband penetration in Africa’s largest economy increased by 10% in one year.

Pantami revealed this while speaking at the first Digital Nigeria Day event on Saturday held on the 24th of October in Abuja, is a day designated to promote the development of the Digital Economy in Nigeria. The 24th of October also coincides with the World Development Information Day as  recognised by the United Nations.

The Digital Nigeria Day is celebrated in every State in Nigeria in a way that emphasizes the strength of the State in the implementation of the Digital Economy Policy and Strategy.

The expected growth in broadband is part of Nigeria’s National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, running from 2020 to 2030, which was unveiled and launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2019. The strategy provides a holistic and sustainable approach towards the development of Nigeria’s digital economy.

It is based on the eight pillars that include Developmental Regulation; Digital Literacy and Skills; Solid Infrastructure; Service Infrastructure; Digital Services Development and Promotion; Soft Infrastructure; Digital Society and Emerging Technologies and Indigenous Content Development and Adoption.

“The Solid Infrastructure pillar addresses the need to provide broadband access and data centres required to enable citizens to access the digital solutions that characterize a digital economy,” said Pantami.

“When I assumed office on the 21st of August 2019, the official broadband penetration figures stood at 33.72%. It increased with the subsequent monthly figures from end of August 2019 to end of August 2020,  and now stand at 43.3%.

Pantami said his ministry was projecting that broadband penetration will grow to 90% in the next five years in the west African nation that has over 200 million people, with 70% of the population aged 30 and below.

“With all sense of humility, within a year in office, we achieved approximately 10% increase in broadband penetration in Nigeria. If the tempo is maintained, we could achieve above 90% broadband penetration in the next five years,” he said.

Pantami said the plan is designed to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria of a minimum 25 megabytes per second (Mbps) 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 ($1.03) per 1 gigabytes of data which is 2% of median income or 1% of minimum wage.

He said empirical evidence has shown that broadband can help to significantly improve economic indices, create jobs and lift people out of extreme poverty.

Pantami said the recent changes in work patterns as a result of the global pandemic coronavirus have shown that the development of digital economies were no longer a luxury but rather a necessity.

The digital economy in Africa is expected to grow to over $300 billion by 2025, according to a United States based management consulting firm McKinsey.

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