BROADBAND: Pantami, Danbatta Raise Hope of Bridging Infrastructural Deficit - Penangle | News Portal in Nigeria
Tue. Jun 18th, 2024
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To facilitate increased access to the Internet by citizens across the country, the ongoing policy directions and regulatory measures being put in place by the Nigerian Government in bridging broadband infrastructure gaps shall be sustained.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, and the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, gave this assurance in their presentations at a recently-concluded virtual African Internet Governance Forum 2021 (vAFIGF2021).

The three-day annual forum which held in-person and virtually, hosted by the Nigerian government, has as its theme: “Advancing Digital Transformation in Africa in the Face of Crisis”. Participants at the forum were stakeholders within the African Information and Communication Technology (ICT) ecosystem.

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

Prof Pantami observed that with the challenges thrown up by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for Internet services has increased dramatically. He called on African citizens to access the broadband/internet services to carry out their personal and official task more effectively and effectively.

Pantami explained that the digital transformation strategy for Africa should be established on key foundational pillars which include an enabling environment, policy regulation, digital infrastructure, digital skills and human capacity, as well as digital innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Additionally, he said the drivers of digital transformation include digital content and applications, digital identification, emerging technology, cyber security, privacy and personal data protection, as well as research and development.

Pantami recalled that despite the fact that Internet usage in sub-Saharan Africa is still not encouraging, according to report by the International Finance Corporation ( IFC ) and World Bank. Notwithstanding, he asserted that Nigeria, with its current over 140 million Internet users, has one of the largest subscriptions in the sub-region.

According to the Minister, the various policies, including the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (2020-2030), and the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025, being put to address infrastructure challenges and enhance the country’s migration to a more robust digital economy, it is almost certain that more citizens will be able to have access to the Internet in the coming years, citing the recent successful auction of 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum band for the scheduled deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) networks as another important policy and strategic step taken by the Nigerian government to boost broadband penetration in the country.

Pantami also listed 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. Other initiatives cited by the Minister include the ongoing effort to address high Right of Way (RoW) charges, tackling multiple taxation in the ecosystem, and increasing stakeholder collaboration.

Meanwhile, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta,who was represented at the event by Director, New Media and Information Security, NCC, Dr. Al-Hassan Haru, reiterated the Commission’s commitment to ensuring broadband penetration through stimulating continuous roll-out of broadband infrastructure. He said the Commission 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.

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.

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