By Adeyemi Adepetun
TO bridge gaps identified in Nigeria’s fibre infrastructure rollout, the Federal Government is hoping to launch the National Dig Once Policy in the country.
With December target, the FG said it was giving final touches to the proposed document.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami, made the disclosure in Lagos at the just concluded fourth edition of Policy Implementation Assisted Forum (PIAFo) on Dig Once Policy and Fibre Strategy in Nigeria with the theme: Laying the Foundation for Ubiquitous Broadband for Nigeria’s Economic Breakthrough.
Already, Nigeria is said to have 120,000km of fibre shortfall, after having deployed over 40,000km.
Pantami, at the event organised by Business Metrics Nigeria, noted that the policy would facilitate seamless deployment of fibre optic as a backbone broadband infrastructure across the country to bridge digital divide and boost digital economy.
Represented by Secretary of Broadband Implementation Steering Committee (BISC) and Head, Wireless Network at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Usman Aliyu, Pantami said the policy is recognized in the Nigeria Broadband Plan 2020-2025 as a critical element to attain 70 per cent broadband penetration by 2025.
According to him, the policy, which seeks to promote installation of ready-made buried fibre conduit for seamless fibre deployment in the country, had received necessary inputs coming from robust engagements with relevant stakeholders for effective realisation of its essence.
He said: “Some of the objectives of the policy are provisioning of shared infrastructure for existing internet service providers and entrants; promotion of installation of ready-made buried fibre conduit for broadband deployment; and reduction of the barriers to entry for Internet Service Providers.
“Others are to promote coordination and reduce the number of excavations and disruptions caused due to fibre installation works; to lower the cost of broadband internet service deployment; to promote joint installation of infrastructures in a single phase and avoid unnecessary future digging as well as encouraging infrastructure, and to promote a unified and affordable pricing regime across the federation for Right of Ways.”
He also said that once the policy becomes operational in Nigeria, there would be lower cost of repair and maintenance of installed fiber infrastructure and lower cost of broadband internet service deployment.
While delivering a paper on Fibre Infrastructure Rollout Ecosystem Development to Reach 60 per cent Fibre to Site at 120,000km by 2025, Ashwani Mishra, ICT Director at Huawei Technologies recommended ways Nigeria can achieve fibre infrastructure targets by 2025 as stipulated in the NBP 2020-2025.
According to him, the Dig Once Implementation Council (DOIC), as Special Purpose Vehicle, should clarify the fibre strategy, boundary and scope of work of each stakeholders and publish quarterly progress reports.
He also encouraged Nigeria to put in place a mechanism to clarify the cooperation between the DOIC and Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) to help drive the policy adoption to state level and as such, redefine the issue of Right of Way (RoW).
Other recommendations made by Mishra include stimulating demand by making provision of ICT infrastructure a standard requirement for new buildings to drive extension of fibre everywhere in the country; making duct a standard specification for road reconstruction and new buildings, uniform RoW charges and establishment of service level agreements for (SLA) for each department or ministry involved in the process of approval.
Earlier in his remarks, Omobayo Azeez, Convener and Lead Executive of PIAFo, emphasised that fibre is critical to achieving the 70 per cent broadband penetration Nigeria is currently targeting.
He said there is need for all stakeholders, especially state and local governments to embrace and domesticate the policy in their respective states.