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Broadband: Nigeria will address infrastructure gaps for improved Internet connectivity ─Pantami, Danbatta

Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy (left) and Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman/CEO of NCC

*The Federal Government says the future is digital, and telecoms/ICT stakeholders should be committed to supporting and collaborating with African countries to maximise opportunities inherent in digital technologies for socio-economic development of the continent

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

In a move to enhance consumers’ access to Internet connectivity in the Telecoms/Information and Communications Technology (ICT) ecosystem in the West African country, the Nigerian Government has assured that the ongoing policy directions and regulatory measures being put in place towards bridging the identified Broadband infrastructure deficit shall be sustained.

ConsumerConnect reports Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, and Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), gave the assurance in their presentations during the recently-concluded virtual African Internet Governance Forum 2021 (vAFIGF2021).

Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director of Public Affairs of NCC, Wednesday, December 22, 2021, stated that the Federal Government hosted the three-day annual forum, held both in-person and virtually, with the theme: “Advancing Digital Transformation in Africa in the Face of Crisis”.

READ ALSO: How NCC Promotes Local Investments In Infrastructure, Competition For Telecoms Growth In Nigeria ─Danbatta

The telecoms sector regulatory Commission disclosed that several stakeholders within the African Information and Communication Technology (ICT) ecosystem attended the vAFIGF2021.

Adinde further noted Prof. Pantami, represented at the forum by Prof. Sahalu Balarabe Junaidu, a Director at NCC, who doubles as Adviser to the Honourable Minister on Technical Matters, said the objective of the forum was to harness digital technology and innovation, transform societies and economies, and eradicate poverty for social and economic development on the African continent.

According to Pantami, with the challenges occasioned by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for Internet services has increased dramatically.

RELATED: Telecoms Regulator Urges Responsible Use Of Internet, Protection Of Telecoms Infrastructure

Nigeria’s Minister for Communications and Digital Economy urged Africans to access the Broadband/Internet services to carry out their personal and official tasks more effectively and effectively.

Prof. Pantami said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the increased need to embrace the digital culture.

“So, as Africans, one of the ways by which we can respond to the challenge thrown by the pandemic is to accelerate our digital transformation,” he said.

Activating digital transformation strategy for Africa’s development

The Minister for Communications and Digital Economy also explained that the digital transformation strategy for Africa should be established on key foundational pillars, including an enabling environment, policy regulation, digital infrastructure, digital skills and human capacity, as well as digital innovation and entrepreneurship.

Mobile Internet consumers

Critical sectors, such as digital trade and financial services, digital government, digital education, digital health, and digital agriculture, are also underlining pillars of the transformation, stated he.

RELATED: NCC Urges Stakeholders To Activate Digital Economy For Diversification, Transformation

Pantami as well said that the drivers of digital transformation include digital content and applications, digital identification, emerging technology, cybersecurity, privacy and personal data protection, as well as research and development.

He recalled that Internet usage in sub-Saharan Africa is still not encouraging, according to report by the International Finance Corporation ( IFC ) and World Bank.

However, the Minister asserted that Nigeria, with its current over 140 million Internet users, has one of the largest subscriptions in the sub-region.

The various policies, including the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (2020-2030), and the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025, emplaced to address infrastructure challenges and enhance the country’s migration to a more robust digital economy, will also ensure that more citizens are able to have access to the Internet in the coming years, said Pantami.

READ ALSO: NCC’s Policy Engagement With Stakeholders For Quality Consumer Experience, Says Danbatta

According to him, the recent successful auction of 3.5 Gigahertz (GHz) Spectrum band for the scheduled deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) networks is another important policy and strategic step the Nigerian Government has taken to boost Broadband penetration in the country.

High-speed Broadband Internet

Pantami further noted the enforcement and implementation of the National Cyber Security Policy and Strategy 2021, and the review of the Cybercrimes Act of 2015 to build an inclusive Internet governance ecosystem and boost digital cooperation, as well as the ongoing linking of citizens National identification Number (NINs) with the Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) as worthy state actions that will yield great benefits.

RELATED: Regulator Outlines Measures To Enhance Internet Connectivity For Nigerian Consumers, Businesses

Other initiatives, Pantami stated, include the ongoing effort at addressing high Right of Way (RoW) charges, tackling multiple taxation in the ecosystem, and increasing stakeholder collaboration in Nigeria.

NCC well-positioned for improved Broadband, digital infrastructure: Danbatta

Dr. Al-Hassan Haru, Director of New Media and Information Security, who represented Danbatta at the forum, as well reiterated the Commission’s commitment to ensuring Broadband penetration through stimulating continuous roll-out of the Broadband infrastructure in the country.

READ ALSO: NCC Board Chair Tasks Telecoms Operators On Fulfilling Licensing Obligations

Haru also disclosed that the NCC is well-positioned to drive government policy direction to tackle digital infrastructure deficit in the telecoms sector, as well as to explore necessary options to improve the nation’s digital ecosystem.

The Commission’s Director of New Media and Information Security stated: “The future is digital, and we should be committed to supporting and collaborating with African countries to maximise opportunities inherent in digital technologies.

“We should also be ready to avoid the pitfalls by instituting appropriate regulations as we are doing in NCC.”

The NCC said other stakeholders at the event included eminent policy experts, leading technology managers from the private sector, representatives of governmental organisations, civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, the academia, and Internet end-users, who actively participated in the discourses during the three-day forum.

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