The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami has underlined the enormous potential of broadband to state governors during a forum designed to sensitise them about the technology in Abuja.
Pantami stressed that the potentials of broadband are so enormous that, if made available for citizens, will be the best gift for their economic emancipation.
Pantami told the state governors and their representatives and other industry stakeholders at the maiden edition of the Broadband Technical Awareness Forum for Governors (BTAF) organised by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), where the Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, reeled out the achievements in information and communication technology (ICT) in the education sector and many other sectors of the state’s economy.
He stated that greater support and collaboration will be required from the state governors towards addressing challenges to broadband infrastructure deployment by the telecom companies, which are expected to deploy the required infrastructure to provide broadband services in all nooks and crannies of Nigeria.
“This is because, more than ever before, our security, economic and educational development rely on having a state-based broadband structure and framework that will articulate the key targets in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025 and this is the essence of this forum today,” he said.
According to the minister, broadband access is globally recognised today as a necessity and not a luxury. This, he said, explains the Federal Government’s decision to develop broadband plans aimed at deepening in-country connectivity to enhance socio-economic development.
The minister who established correlation between broadband penetration and the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP), stated that countries with a high density of broadband networks have higher GDP per capita for the citizens. He said the steady growth in broadband penetration over the years in Nigeria is directly reflects the economic growth of the country.
Obaseki, who delivered a goodwill message on behalf of other state governors and listed efforts made by state governments in encouraging broadband infrastructure deployment, assured stakeholders of the readiness and willingness of the state governments to work more with the Federal Government. He, however, emphasised the need for increased open dialogue and trust between the states and the Federal Government.
Representatives of other state governors also expressed their determination to cooperate more with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, the NCC and other telecoms’ companies to facilitate the deployment of fibre infrastructure which they believe would improve the socio-economic lives of citizens.
In his remarks, the chairman, board of commissioners at NCC, Prof. Adeolu Akande said Nigeria deserves to be in tune as the world goes digital in all spheres, as we cannot afford to lag in being among the countries leveraging broadband for socio-economic development.
“We recognize the fact that Nigeria is a nation with federating units. Hence, it would be difficult to achieve faster and desired broadband penetration level without effective collaboration with the state governors,” he said. Akande particularly emphasised the centrality of synergy to tackle all challenges undermining broadband deployment, particularly multiple taxations, right of way (RoW), denial of access to telecoms sites for maintenance, vandalism, insecurity, among others” Akande said.
Earlier, the executive vice chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta said the objective of the event was to seek better understanding and rich resolutions to all issues affecting faster broadband deployment.
He reminded participants that: “though we are making gradual progress towards our target, this forum will provide us with deeper insights on how to address identified challenges to broadband deployment”.
A statement by the commission’s director of public affairs, Reuben Muoka said the event was attended by over 170 delegates and, following discussions at the technical panel session, several resolutions were made towards ensuring accessible, available and affordable broadband services that will support the overall socio-economic development in the country. A key decision taken at the forum was the urgent need to establish the state broadband coordinating council, as a sub-national structure at the state level which is urgently required to enhance the accomplishment of the objectives of the NNBP.