Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo said on Thursday that the recognition that internet access and broadband penetration will become existential in the nearest future and will determine Nigeria’s competitiveness in the global economy is the driving force behind the Buhari administration’s initiative on broadband connectivity for all.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this in his remarks delivered virtually at the launch of the Ogun State Digital Economy Empowerment Project.
The Vice President said that making digital technology available to all citizens and businesses is the most farsighted action any government can take today.
“Indeed, access to broadband and other technology tools have become compulsory for any community that seeks meaningful growth, prosperity, and security for its people.
“We must press on in our quest to democratize access to the internet. We are pursuing this cause because we recognize that internet access and broadband penetration will become existential in a few short years and will determine our competitiveness in the global economy”, he said.
Osinbajo said that the Buhari administration’s commitment to ensure broadband connectivity for all by 2023 is an ambition that is “now enshrined in our Economic Sustainability Plan.”
“As part of the national commitment to make broadband connectivity available to all in 2017, the State Governors under the auspices of the National Economic Council (NEC) agreed to harmonize right of way charges payable by telecommunications companies and related public utility infrastructure on Local Governments, States and Federal Highways to encourage co-location of fibre optic cables.
“In another demonstration of Government’s commitment in this regard, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy launched the National Broadband Plan which is designed to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria of a minimum 25Mbps in urban areas and 10Mbps in rural areas, with effective coverage available to at least 90% of the population by 2025 at affordable prices.
“The plan gives special attention to unserved and underserved areas in the distribution of telecom services. Many States have already complied with the right of way policy and have reduced the rates to as low as N140 per meter, while some States have completely removed the charges”, he said.
Leadership in digital technology
The Vice President commended Ogun State for taking leadership in digital technology in Nigeria and said “by bringing last-mile broadband access to homes, businesses, and offices in Ogun State, you are opening up Ogun state residents and businesses digitally not just to Nigeria but to the entire universe.”
The Vice President who said “today is one of my proudest days as a citizen of Ogun State”, added that “through judicious investments in the right infrastructure, Ogun State has positioned itself to become a major global site of the emergent innovation economy.
“I believe that bridging the digital divide in the state will also lead to improved education outcomes and provide opportunities for improved access to education across the state and at different levels starting from primary to tertiary education. The digital revolution that this project will bring will be a game-changer in every aspect of the socio-economic life of this State.”
Prof. Osinbajo noted that improving access to broadband will provide an opportunity for young Nigerian innovators to take on their peers from across the world on a more level playing field.
The Ogun Digital Economy Empowerment Project is an initiative of the State Government in collaboration with 21st Century Technologies aimed at providing digital infrastructure to enhance broadband connectivity across the state.
Besides the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun and other State dignitaries, other guests present at the launch included the former State Governor, Mr Gbenga Daniel, the Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, among others.