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IT NEWS NIGERIA Special Report: Why High Speed Internet Is Nigeria’s Digital Innovation Bedrock

IT NEWS NIGERIA:

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Stakeholders and apex industry regulators have always maintained broadband or high speed internet connectivity  is the cornerstone of digital innovations in the country and any efforts aimed at nationwide internet inclusion will have multiplier effect on the GDP and the economy

Broadband internet, also referred to as high-speed internet, has become a requirement for just about any business that wants to participate in the online economy in any way. What many businesses are not aware of is that there are different types of broadband internet access available, and some are faster and more reliable than others.

High-speed internet access is necessary for much of our day-to-day lives. It impacts commerce, education, health and public safety, cultural enrichment, government and private sectors operations.

Broadband access and adoption help promote economic development and social equity while promoting public health, public safety and educational opportunities around the country and it underpins all the important advances in digital innovations and services.

Broadband Internet Speeds depending on the type of access you purchase as broadband internet connection will allow business to connect to the internet in a particular bandwidth range. Many providers offer bandwidth speed at various tiered price points. While access speeds fluctuate due to a variety of factors, including modem type, your bandwidth plan, and the amount of traffic online in your area at a given time.

In response this issue of critical importance, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) last year licensed six infrastructure companies (INFRACOs), one each in the six geo-political zones of the country with the seventh one specifically issued for Lagos zone because of its commercial centrality to the country.  So far, Nigerians have not experienced the impact of the initiatives.

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Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive of the Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta recently in Lagos in a keynote address at the fourth edition of the Nigeria Innovation Summit (NIS) with the theme: “Accelerating Nigeria’s Economic Growth through Innovation”  said NCC has been implementing towards bridging identified infrastructure gap in the telecom industry.

It was clear that without robust policy initiative to improve broadband infrastructure, it is difficult for individuals, businesses and governments to run any digital innovation in the financial services, education, agriculture, commerce, healthcare and other sectors of the economy.

Government acknowledged that the theme of the event could not have come at a better time when advancement in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is, on a daily basis, throwing up innovative technologies that organisations and businesses must leverage in order to remain relevant and be competitive in their sphere of operations.

Citing an Accenture Technology Vision 2019 survey of more than 6,600 business and Information Technology (IT) executives, the Danbatta said that 94 percent of respondents in the survey said the pace of technology innovation in their organisations had either accelerated or significantly accelerated over the past three years, indicative of the strategic imperatives of digital technology for every individual, business and organisation.

While intimating the gathering of stakeholders on what the NCC has been doing as the regulatory agency driving digital transformation with regards to investment drive in telecommunications/broadband infrastructure, Danbatta said NCC has been working tirelessly to create an enabling environment for competition among operators and other licensees in the industry as well as ensuring the provision of qualitative and efficient telecommunications services throughout the country.

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He further stated that the Commission is also partnering with necessary stakeholders across the three levels of government to collectively address all the challenges such as vandalism, multiple taxation and regulation, high cost of Right of Way (RoW), among others, which are impeding speedy infrastructure deployment across the country.

“For innovation to thrive towards accelerating economic growth, robust telecoms/broadband infrastructure upon which ICT innovations will ride, is a necessity. It may, therefore, interest you to know that, through effective regulatory efforts, the NCC has been able to deepen connectivity in the country. As at June, 2019, Internet connections in the country have reached over 122 million, with over 63.5 million of this figure connected to broadband networks of 3G and 4G, which represents a 33.31 percent broadband penetration,” Danbatta stated.

He explained that the need to drive digital innovations informed the establishment of the NCC’s Research and Development Department in 2016 which has, so far, led to the disbursement of millions of Naira, in grants, to sponsor innovation-oriented research projects in tertiary institutions and other research institutes.

“Another area where NCC has been playing a pivotal role in promoting investment opportunities and innovation within the digital ecosystem for economic growth is in exposing young Small and Medium Enterprisers (SME) owners in the ICT industry to global investment opportunities. This is done annually through sponsoring young Nigerian innovators to such global forum as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecoms World principally to provide them with the platform to exhibit relevant, home-grown technology innovations and solutions to the global investment community,” he said.

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The NCC EVC said that given their collective prioritisation of digital technology, what will be paramount, going forward, will be the innovative ways by which new and emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), augmented reality, robotics, Cloud computing, Big data, Over-the-Top (OTT), Block-chain technology, advanced security systems and and so on, are deployed by companies looking for the next competitive edge to drive innovative products and services for the consumers.

Danbatta, therefore, averred that the theme of the event could not have come at a better time when advancement in ICT, on a daily basis, is throwing up innovative technologies that organisations and businesses must leverage in order to remain relevant and be competitive in their sphere of operations,” he said.

The list of reasons why broadband internet is not important for businesses is a much, much shorter list than the reasons why it is.

Virtually every type of product and service being offered today is being offered either both physically and online, or online only. Everything from banking and financial services, telecommunications, entertainment, and education are integrating online components or migrating to the internet entirely.

The reason for the massive shift is the simple fact that the internet provides a fast, convenient way for businesses to connect with their customers. Having broadband internet access is of the same importance these days as the traditional phone line has been since the turn of the 20th century.

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