AfricaNXT 2022: Participants Laud Policy, Regulatory Impact On Digital Connectivity

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A cross section of participants at the AfricaNXT conference in Lagos.

Participants at the week-long 2022 edition of AfricaNXT have acknowledged the positive impact of the Federal Government’s policy and regulatory efforts, through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in fostering increased connectivity. 

The discussants, attending the meeting in Lagos, particularly identified the critical role that digital connectivity is playing and will continue to play in shaping the future of work and the development of commercial activities in the country.

A statement by the commission’s director of public affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, said at a panel discussion, titled “Bridging the African Digital Economy Gap,” discussants examined, in great depth and perspectives, how the digital economy gap can be addressed in Nigeria and across Africa towards supporting business owners to sustainably grow global brands emerging from the African continent.

“Also, at a panel discussion on “Future of Work: Exploring Pathways to Careers in the Digital Age”, panellists emphasised the transformational role digital connectivity is playing in bringing about efficient work environment, virtual collaboration at the workplace, mobile work, as well as remote work, thus replacing the hitherto brick-and-mortar business model, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Formerly known as Social Media Week Lagos and now rebranded AfricaNXT, the conference is one of the largest technology events in Africa, with a gathering of business owners, innovators, technology enthusiasts and regulators, to discuss and network on how Africa can take her befitting place in the emerging global digital economy.

“Already, the NCC delegation has arrived at the venue of the event in high spirits, ready to participate in the various panel sessions ahead of the main NCC panel session on Fifth Generation Deployment scheduled to take place on Thursday, March 3, 2022,” it added.

The statement further said a panel session to be constituted by senior staff of NCC, on various regulatory aspects of 5G being driven by the NCC to deepen digital connectivity, will be a forum to educate hundreds of participants expected at the NCC panel session. 

According to it, there are indications of enthusiasm about the NCC discourse and participants seem ready to use the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the new technology. 

“Over the years, NCC has put in place an effective regulatory regime that has continued to make the country witness increase in Internet penetration and usage of digital media. 

“As of December 2021, active mobile Internet subscriptions surpassed 141 million, active mobile (voice) subscriptions stood at 195.4 million, broadband penetration reached 40.88 per cent while digital economy access gaps identified by the commission are being drastically reduced to ensure saturated Internet connectivity across the country.

“Besides, the commission has facilitated the deployment of emerging technologies from the First Generation (1G), to 2G, 3G and 4G-LTE, and is vigorously driving the deployment of 5G network in the country with the recent auction of 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum licences to operators that will deploy 5G technology in the country.

“Also, NCC is driving the effective implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy & Strategy (NDEPS), 2020-2030 and the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025 to actualise the laudable targets of deepening broadband penetration, reducing the cost of broadband services, and improving digital literacy and skills. These initiatives, participants reckoned, have transformed businesses with a multiplier effect on Nigeria’s GDP in which the telecom sector contributes more than 12 per cent,” it stated. 

Earlier, at the first business session hosted by The Guardian Newspaper, held after the opening of plenary, discussants and participants visualised how African stories will be told in the next 10 years.

There was a convergence of opinions that great developments in Africa could propel the emergence of great brands that can shape the nature of content, as well as their narrations to the benefit of Africa. 

Furthermore, the extant NDEPS, the NNBP and the new policy on 5G network for digital Nigeria, are expected to combine to shape the nature of and significance of content generation, processing and dissemination in Africa.

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