The Federal Government has embarked on deployment of 18,000 kilometres of fibre infrastructure to Nigeria’s existing stock of 38,000km cabling under its National Broadband Penetration Programme to boost broadband coverage across the country.
Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, made this known in a statement issued by Mr Attah Esa, Deputy Director, Information, State House Media unit, on Friday in Abuja.
Esa said that the presidential aide made this known at the just-concluded 5th World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China.
According to Shehu, the National Broadband Penetration Programme is part of the Buhari administration’s ambitious targets for a national broadband network to harness the potential of the internet and digital access for jobs, education, healthcare, identity management and to increase productivity in the public sector.
To this end, he said, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Nigeria Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council, chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, jointly inaugurated the National Broadband Penetration Programme.
He explained that “the goal is to, within four years, provide fibre connectivity to all 774 Local Government Areas of Nigeria.
“Government’s role is to provide the right licencing framework, as well as the necessary subsidies to encourage investment.”
Shehu revealed that two additional infrastructure companies had been licenced in 2018 to roll out broadband infrastructure in the country.
He added that “together with previous licensees, and other private sector players, these companies would help to implement the government’s vision of total national broadband connectivity.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the President told the conference that Nigeria’s Social Investment Programme, including the N-Power Youth Employment Scheme, had provided 500,000 beneficiaries with electronic tablet devices for learning and self-development.
He said “another aspect of the N-Power focuses on training young software engineers and coders.”
The presidential aide further told the international gathering that the Buhari administration had begun the development of “Technology & Innovation Hubs” across the country, in partnership with the private sector.
He added that a total of eight hubs were planned across the country, with four already functional.
Shehu also spoke about partnerships between the Federal Government and Facebook, Google, and Huawei Technologies of China to roll out high-quality Internet across the country.
According to him, the recently established Technology Advisory Body chaired by the Vice President will provide support to companies and initiatives.
He specifically thanked Chinese companies like the Huawei for supporting the Nigerian government’s efforts at digital inclusion and expanding access.
He also lauded Huawei for sponsoring Nigerian students for ICT training in China.
Huawei had in 2016 opened a Technology Hub, the Huawei Innovation and Experience Centre in Lagos with a pledge to train 12,000 Nigerians, including 2,000 civil servants.