The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, has described the enormous potentials of broadband in the country as the best gift for economic emancipation, if made available for citizens.
Pantami spoke in Abuja at the maiden edition of Broadband Technical Awareness Forum for Governors, BTAF, organised by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, for state governors, their representatives and industry stakeholders.
He stressed that greater support and collaboration will be required from state governors towards addressing challenges to broadband infrastructure deployment by the telecom companies, which are expected to deploy 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 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.
A statement by NCC’s director, Public Affairs, Reuben Muoka said the minister noted that access to broadband is globally recognized today as a necessity and not luxury and that explains Federal Government’s decision to develop broadband plans aimed at deepening in-country connectivity to enhance socio-economic development.
According him, there is a correlation between broadband penetration and growth of Gross Domestic Product, GDP, as countries with high density of broadband network have higher GDP per capital for the citizens.
He added that steady growth in broadband penetration over the years in Nigeria is directly reflecting on the economic growth of the country.
Also speaking Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, who delivered a goodwill message on behalf of other state governors, listed efforts made by state governments in encouraging broadband infrastructure deployment.
Obaseki 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.
Chairman, Board of Commissioners at NCC, Prof. Adeolu Akande, 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 services, vandalism, and insecurity among others,” Akande said.
On his part, 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.”