The Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani has said that despite complaints by Nigerians, the cost of data in Nigeria is still one of the cheapest in the world.
The Minister, who stated this while featuring on a live TV program on Arise, said the focus of the Ministry would be to ensure an improvement in the quality of services Nigerians are getting from the telecommunications service providers.
According to him, in recognition of the importance of internet access to Nigerians and the economy, the Ministry would also ensure the expansion of broadband coverage to most parts of the country.
He said this would be achieved through the implementation of the country’s National Broadband Plan which is targeting the deployment of 95,000 fibre cables across the country. Under the plan, Nigeria is also targeting 70% broadband penetration by 2025.
The 4-pillar agenda
Tijani said the Communications Ministry under him is currently being guided by four pillars aimed at transforming the nation’s economy with technology.
- “if Nigeria is ever going to develop, we understand that we need to mainstream the application of technology but for us to do that, we came up with five key pillars that are guiding the work we do. The first one is what we’ve called Knowhow, which means we need to have a strong workforce that can help apply technology if anything serious is going to happen.
- “Also because there’s a gap in the technology workforce globally, we think because over 60% of our population is under the age of 25, Nigeria can actually also become a net exporter of technology talent. So that’s the first pillar. How do we drive more knowledge, how do we drive more people? How do we invest in more research in technologies that we want to apply?” he said.
The Minister said the second pillar is to focus on policy to reimagine the government’s policies as not just a tool to regulate and stifle opportunity but also to open up the economy across all sectors for technological innovation to happen. He added that this is being implemented through partnerships between ministries to drive the application of technology.
Speaking specifically to infrastructure, especially in the telecommunications sector, the Minister said:
- “The third pillar is infrastructure. We don’t talk about this enough. Nigeria’s telecommunication sector is actually one of the best on the continent. People talk about data being expensive but it is still one of the cheapest in the world. Of course, we know how important it is to our people. And we need to continue to look for ways to improve the quality but we want to also ensure that broadband penetration in Nigeria is in the critical parts of the country.
- “We’re aiming to go on a target of 95,000 kilometers of fibre laying. That’s the target that has been set for Nigeria to cover the country with fiber optic cable and we want to achieve 70% penetration in the first four years.”
He added that the fourth pillar is what the Ministry called Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
- “If we do the first pillar, well the second pillar and the third pillar really well, without innovators and entrepreneurs we can’t make gains out of it. So, we’re increasing the pool of local capital, and patent capital that startups can access, which is what we want to achieve with the i-DICE program of almost $600 million. We want to be able to invest in our people.
- “And lastly, if we invest in these people, it’s not enough for them to produce things that we consume locally. We’ve seen it in entertainment, if they can also export their solution, they will bring in foreign earnings into the economy and that’s what we are doing,” he said.