The Nigerian government has disbursed 16.7 billion Naira for the provision of broadband infrastructure in 18 higher academic institutions and 20 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the six geo political zones of the country.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami said the initiative was aimed at boosting the economic drive of the current administration in various sectors.
He said the project, which is to be implemented by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) was approved by the Federal Executive Council, after the presentation by the Minister.
The Minister spoke at the unveiling of his book titled, “Skills Rather than Degrees Book” with a foreword written by President, Microsoft Corporation, Brad Smith and the Launch of Broadband Infrastructure in Abuja, Nigeria.
He also stressed that this was to accelerate broadband penetration in Nigeria and advance the course of digital economy projections for the nation.
According the Pantami, digital connectivity and expanding access to information play a role in enhancing the economy.
He said “the World Bank estimates that an increase in the digitally connected people across the globe to 75 percent.
This will result in an addition of up to $2 trillion dollars per year to world GDP and a creation of about 140 million jobs.”
Similarly, a report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation states that 80 percent of economic benefits in developing countries are as a result of the use of ICTs and digital skills.
While in developed countries, it is even higher at 90 percent.
He disclosed that “I presented this programme at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on the 26th October 2022, an approval was given for N16.7 billion to be used to provide broadband access for 20 markets and 18 schools across the 6 geopolitical zones of the country. The others being the launch of the broadband infrastructure for higher institutions of learning; the broadband infrastructure for MSMEs and distribution of 6,000 e-pad tablets to institutions of higher learning.”
Pantami affirmed that this will significantly enhance the quality and ease of access across markets and educational institutions and will also deepen broadband penetration across the country.
He noted that these have become necessary judging by the key role higher education and MSMEs play in the development of the country, which was the reason the government, developed the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari on 28 November 2019.
‘The government as part of measures to implement the NDEPs also initiated the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025, which pillar number two speaks on broadband penetration.”
He said that Nigeria has experienced the impact of the digital economy on other sectors of the economy.
“You will recall that the digital economy of Nigeria played a key role in stabilising and growing other sectors of our economy. The ICT sector also enabled Nigeria to exit the recession triggered by COVID a year earlier than predicted by experts.”
Pantami reiterated the fact that digital connectivity, access, and skills are critical for human and economic development in both developed and developing countries.
Speaking on the book, the Minister said it focused on the importance of skills and its potential impact in addressing the problems of unemployability, unemployment and underemployment.
“I am very delighted to unveil my latest book and launch a number of our initiatives aimed at expanding broadband connectivity across Nigeria. Broadband connectivity and access are central to the expansion of our National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria and are in alignment with the mandates of President Muhammadu Buhari, on job creation and economic diversification.
“I am passionate about the importance of skills and have been speaking about this at many events. This book is a research and productive work implementing the paradigm shift that I am advocating”, he stated.
Also speaking at the event, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, said the interventions were ambitious, adding that the commission is committed to implementing the various projects and various policies regarding broadband infrastructure in a manner that is ubiquitous.
Danbatta promised to make available, ICT equipment that will allow access to these services, saying “access and connectivity have indeed emerged as foundations for future growth as well as the foundation for economic transformation of our society,” he added.