Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Pantami along with Governor of Edo State, Executive Vice Chairman(EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC), Prof Umar Danbatta have agreed that federal and state governments collaboration is key to providing Broadband Penetration for majority of Nigerians by 2025.
They made this disclosure at the Broadband Technical Awareness Forum for Governors(BTAF) organised by NCC on Thursday in Abuja.
In his remarks at the event, Prof Pantami stated that the access to broadband is not a luxury but a necessity in the 21st century society.
He disclosed that Nigeria was making colossal progress in her pursuit to provide internet for all Nigerians.
According to him, “The Federal government launched the National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 and since the launching of the plan, government has been with all stakeholders to deepen broadband penetration in the country.
“Access to broadband is no longer a luxury but a neccessity because there is no way we can ensure security and safety without broadband coverage and we cannot attain economic development without broadband penetration. Breadboard is necessary for security, education, economic development among others.”
He noted that a research conducted by the World Internet Forum showed that 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration will increase the Gross Domestic Product(GDP) of a country by 2.5 per cent, and in some countries, 8.9 percent.
He said, “The increase in broadband penetration in Nigeria is directly reflecting in our GDP since 2019 to date.
“As at 26th September, 2022,152, 279,265 people representing 79.8 per cent Nigerians have access to the internet while 85,232, 000 representing 44.68 per cent Nigerians have access to broadband. When it comes to broadband penetration, we are on track, we are delivering, in some cases, we have delivered the tasks given to us by 590 percent”.
On his part, the governor of Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki assured that state governors were ready to collaborate with federal government and stakeholders towards the nation’s broadband penetration target.
He called for openness, trustworthy dialogue between state governments and federal government in a bid for all Nigerians to access internet irrespective of their places and locations.
He said, “I want to assure the minister that the states are willing to work with you, but we need to build more trust.
“We have found out that in Edo state during Pandemic, technology helped cut down on the cost of governance. Today we can proudly say that Edo state is technologically enabled.”
Earlier, the EVC NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta highlighted that the priority of the Commission was to close the gap of Nigerians without internet access.
countries with high density of broadband network have higher GDP per capital for the citizens. He said the steady growth in broadband penetration over the years in Nigeria is directly reflecting on the economic growth of the country.
Gov. 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 but emphasized 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 co-operate more with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, the NCC and other telecoms companies to facilitate deployment of fibre infrastructure which they believe would improve the socio-economic lives of citizens.
Chairman, Board of Commissioners at NCC, Prof. Adeolu Akande, had in his remarks, 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 taxation, right of way (RoW), denial of access to telecoms sites for maintenance, vandalism, insecurity, among others” the Chairman of NCC Board of Commissioners said.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, in his own submission, 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, but this forum will provide us with deeper insights on how to address identified challenges to broadband deployment.” At the event attended by over 170 delegates and following discussion 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 is the urgent need to establish 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.