President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR made a pledge in his June 12, 2019 Democracy Day Address, to lift 100 Million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years. In October 2019, to further the achievement of this objective, he expanded the mandate of the Ministry of Communications to address the development of the Nigerian Digital Economy in line with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) with a focus on accelerating growth and social inclusion.
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.
In recognition of the tremendous economic growth opportunities afforded by the deployment of broadband technologies, Nigeria established its first broadband plan in 2013 for a period of five years. The plan set out to achieve broadband access, defined as minimum download speeds of 1.5Mbps with at least 30% coverage, and an objective of achieving 3G coverage to at least 80% of the population. It was recognised that rapid rollout of broadband services will address various socio-economic challenges faced by the country, including the need to grow its economy, create jobs, 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.
However, given the current state of technology, development and applications of broadband technology, the 30% penetration achievement in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2013 – 2018 lags the aspiration of the country as the developed world marches towards widespread deployment of 5G technologies, while the country is yet to achieve significant 4G coverage and adoption.
In view of the above, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy was developed in line with the mandate of the Honourable Minister of Communications & Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami. This was was unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2019. Based on this strategy, the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020 – 2025 has been developed and approved for implementation. The new Broadband Plan is designed to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria of a minimum 25Mbps 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 per 1GB of data (i.e. 2% of median income or 1% of minimum wage).
The Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020 – 2025 is presented below;