The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ibrahim Pantami has said that the era of pre-registered SIM cards either at open markets or at other places across the country is over.
Pantami disclosed this yesterday when a team of Media Trust Limited’s management led by the Editor-in-Chief of Daily Trust, Mallam Naziru Mikailu paid him an official visit in his office in Abuja.
Specifically, the minister said that through the ministry’s interventions, the problem of preregistered SIM cards had been eradicated.
He said the use of preregistered SIM cards for criminal activities had been reduced to barest minimum within the last 11months he came in as minister of communications and digital economy.
According to him, his directive to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) led to blocking of 9.4million improperly registered SIM cards.
“Last week I was on a programme on a radio station in Kaduna and they said there were still preregistered cards in the markets. I challenged them to go and buy SIM card to show whether they are right or not. I said if they are found to be right that means some sanctions would be slammed on some people either within government or outside the government. But they went through markets in Kaduna, and they came back with no preregistered SIM”, the minister said.
Pantami also said he had also intervened on the issue of Right of Way (RoW) charges with the state governors, resulting in the reduction of the charges from N5,500 per linear metre to N1 per kilometre of fibre in Kwara State and from N600 per linear metre to N0 in Anambra State, while some other states had settled for N145 kilometre of fibre.
The minister expressed optimism that the move would go in long way in supporting the execution of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 19th of March this year and impact positively on the economy
“One of the key benefits is the rapid growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) of any country that increases its broadband penetration”, he said.
He disclosed that work had already started on the new National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 as the country had attained 40.18 per cent broadband penetration.
Pantami said the new plan would ensure that 90 per cent of Nigeria population has access to broadband, while it is also expected that the country achieve 70 per cent broadband penetration by year 2025.
“For many years, the broadband penetration remained 31 per cent and that is about 1% or 1.5% growth per annum. But within one year of our coming on board, the broadband penetration grew by about 10 % and it now stands at 40.18 %”, he said.
The minister explained that following the launch of the National Broadband Policy by the President, certain steps have been taken by the authorities to address major challenges inhibiting the growth and development of the telecommunication industry.
He said: “It is heart-warming that Mr. President has also directed that the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) should coordinate the protection of telecommunications and ICT infrastructures across the country.
“And an Executive Order is right on the table of Mr. President on the protection of the nation’s National Critical Infrastructures. The Executive Order is expected to accommodate everything regarding the ICT sector in the country”.
The minister further explained implementation of the broadband policy goes beyond access to internet, stressing that government is targeting the transformation of the economy with the creation of millions of jobs, higher standard of living for the people as well as economic growth and development for the country.
Earlier in his remarks, Mikailu said the Media Trust aligned with the Federal Government’s effort to drive Nigeria’s economy through digital.
He said journalism remained one of the sectors feeling the impact of digitalization, adding that it is only wise for journalists and media houses to key embrace it to improve their efficiency.
Commenting, Media Trust’s General Manager Business and Strategy Mallam Ahmed Shekarau, who was part of the visit, said the company would support the ministry in disseminating its laudable programmes.