By Juliet Umeh
The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, has said that the partnership between Nigeria and British Government on Digital Access Programme will deepen digital inclusion in Nigeria.
He spoke at a Programme hosted online today to kick off the partnership.
The virtual conference is tagged the first Nigeria Technical Conference on the Right of Way (RoW).
Partners include the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, UK Government and the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC.
The partnership is primarily on the technical support which the UK government has promised to give in the area of streamlining activities in Right of Way, ROW development in the country.
The technical support informed a deeply researched report on RoW activities which has afforded the UK government deep insights of areas to begin with in the quest to impress upon all stakeholders, the importance and benefits of RoW to digital growth in the country.
After going through the report, Danbatta said he was convinced the British Government’s support will reform approaches to RoW and deepen digital inclusion in Nigeria.
Represented by Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management (ECSM), Mr. Adeleke Adewolu, he said: “The Technical Assistance on RoW reforms will assist in our quest for deepening broadband penetration in Nigeria.
NCC is willing and ready to advance the reforms noted in the technical study and will collaborate with stakeholders to effect it in the short, medium and long term,” he added.
He noted the programme was also to aggregate views from key stakeholders, towards the advancement of policy and regulatory reforms on Right of Way (RoW) as well as that of Issuance of Planning permits for Mast and Towers.
Earlier, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, in opening remarks commended efforts made so far, particularly those of the the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Ibrahim Pantami.
She said: “Nigeria has seen great progress in the effort to provide inclusive digital access to millions of its citizens.
“The COVID19 pandemic has however, made the world rely more on internet connectivity for access to basic necessities – health, education, work, shopping, convenience and other services. As such, substantial digital inequities have been revealed.
“The UK is keen to support the promotion of affordable, inclusive, safe and secure digital access for underserved or excluded populations, and this conference is a significant step to discuss the technical findings of our preliminary study, outcomes, lingering challenges and the way forward.
“I hope that today’s deliberation will culminate into an increased digital inclusion as a basis for a more thriving local tech ecosystem, generating skilled jobs and innovative solutions for local development challenges,” she added.
Also in his keynote address, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isah Ali Ibrahim Pantami commended the UK Government for supporting the Nigeria Digital Economy agenda and promised to remain focused in deepening digital inclusion.
“As is customary, the UK Government supported us in the development of the new national broadband plan through the Digital Access Programme.
“Nigeria has in the last one year of my time as Minister, added 10% to the broadband penetration level in the country.
RoW reforms is the key to unlocking Nigeria’s digital economy for inclusive digital growth and we have worked with the Nigerian Governors Forum to achieve some important results already. We will continue to champion these reforms on RoW and work on the challenges identified by the technical study,” he added
Besides Pantami and Danbatta, others who participated in the meeting include Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi.
Senator Hope Uzodinma of Imo State; Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau State; Abdurrahman Razzak of Kwara State; Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State; and Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State; members of the Presidential Committee on Broadband Plan monitoring and implementation; industry and private sector leaders in the tech and telecommunications sector, CSOs and the Media.