As part of efforts geared towards achieving sustainable digital economy in Nigeria, the Federal Government has launched broadband infrastructure to provide free internet access for 18 tertiary institutions and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in 20 markets across the six geo-political zones of the country.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami at the launch in Abuja said that the N16.7 billion was secured from the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to provide the broadband access after his presentation to the council.
Pantami added another N1.96 billion has been granted by the FEC to purchase 6,000 e-pad mobile devices for students in tertiary institutions to support the institutions under the Nigeria National Broadband Plan NNBP, 2020- 2025.
According to the Minister, the provision of broadband infrastructure for the MSMEs in Nigeria, and 18 tertiary institutions across the six geopolitical zones of the country will promote MSMEs and aid efforts towards achieving the major objectives of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030.
The landmark broadband initiatives billed to be implemented by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC on behalf of the federal government is expected promote broadband penetration in Nigeria and advance the course of digital economy projections for the country.
Pantami was of the view that with MSMEs contributing 46.7% to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, the sector deserved all the visibility it could get.
The Minister however disclosed that only 18 higher institutions of learning, particularly Universities at the federal and state levels are to benefit from the first phase of the broadband penetration project.
In the same vein, the Minister also launched a book authored by himself, with the title “Skills Rather Than Just Degrees” to reinforce the importance of skills acquisition and development to growth and development of the nation’s economy.
The book which has its foreword written by Brad Smith, President, Microsoft Corporation is bringing to fore the value of training and skills development, while emphasizing that the major challenge Nigeria has is not employment but unemployability.
In his welcome remarks, Chairman, Governing board, Nigeria Communication Commission, NCC, Adeolu Akande affirmed that the broadband infrastructure project will enable high speed internet access to the selected higher institutions and markets across the country.
Akande acknowledged that the initiate will aid in teaching and learning in schools, as well as enhance businesses for MSMEs in Nigeria.
Earlier in his remarks, the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi stressed the need to pay more attention to skills development in Nigeria, noting that the only way through which a country could be free from poverty was to develop the skills and talents of it’s youth.
Emphasizing that the nation could promote development through innovations, acquisition of prerequisite skills to utilize technology and through talents, Mallam Abdullahi said the launch of Broadband system for higher institutions of learning and MSMEs would improve value chain connection and achieve the much desired drive of digital economy.
The implementation of the list of outlined projects are expected to be completed within six months, from the date of the award.