Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki yesterday at the maiden edition of Broadband Technical Awareness Forum for Governors (BTAF), organised by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) called on his colleagues to support the broadband pursuit of the federal government.
The government, who delivered a goodwill message on behalf of other state governors, noted that the benefits of having broadband are so enormous that if made available for their citizens, will be the best gift for their economic emancipation.
Giving an impressive report card about what he has already achieved with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the education sector, and many other sectors of the Edo State economy, Mr. Obaseki listed efforts made by state governments in encouraging broadband infrastructure deployment.
“From what we have seen in Edo State, broadband is the way to go to drive the economy in every sector. I will call on all my colleagues to give the necessary support to accelerate broadband deployment across the country,” he said.
Gov. 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.
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.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, said at the gathering that attracted over 170 stakeholders 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 needed infrastructure to provide broadband services in all nooks and crannies of Nigeria.
“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, access to broadband is globally recognized today as a necessity and not a luxury and that explains Federal Government’s decision to develop broadband plans aimed at deepening in-country connectivity to enhance socio-economic development.
He argued that countries with a high density of broadband networks have higher GDP per capita for the citizens as broadband penetration and growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) correlate. “The steady growth in broadband penetration over the years in Nigeria is directly reflecting on the economic growth of the country,” he noted.
Also in his remarks, Chairman, the 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 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” the Chairman of NCC Board of Commissioners said.
In his submission, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the event’s objective 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.”
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 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.