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Broadband to the hinterlands: Buhari Urges Mobile Operators to Focus on Underserved, Unserved Areas

IT News Nigeria:

President Muhammadu Buhari has urged mobile network operators (MNOs) to ensure full attainment of the targets set in the new National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 by giving special attention to unserved and underserved areas when deploying telecom services.

The President made the call on Thursday at the unveiling of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) 2020–2025, the commissioning of the Communications and Digital Economy Complex, the commencement of the Digital, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Training Scheme, and the launching of the Abuja Emergency Communication Centre (ECC) and the National Emergency Toll-Free Number, 112.

The President particularly commended efforts of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Presidential Committee and all other stakeholders, who participated in the development of the new National Broadband Plan, for coming up with new broadband target of 70 per cent penetration of broadband in the country by 2025.

Speaking further at the occasion, the President said the NCC’s Communications and Digital Economy Complex will provide a befitting coordinating centre for the new focus on a digital Nigeria. He stated that the commissioning of the complex amplified government’s desire to intensify efforts towards ensuring that Nigeria becomes an active participant in the Global Digital Economy.

He also said that the newly-commissioned ECC and Toll Free Number, 112, demonstrate his administration’s resolve to keep Nigerians safe by taking advantage of digital technologies to ensure that Nigerians in distress are only a phone call away from the relevant emergency response institutions in the country to ensure their rescue.

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“The Emergency Communications Centres (ECC) will go a long way in supporting our efforts to improve the security of lives and property,” the President said.

He also explained that the Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Training scheme, an initiative of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, is one of Federal Government’s key initiatives to empower innovators and entrepreneurs with skills required to thrive in the emerging digital economy.

Buhari said the digital capacity-building initiative is part of his administration’s efforts to ensure that “our youths, women, unemployed graduates and people living with disabilities either become employers of labour or get a large number of well-paying jobs thereby incrementally contributing to the national drive of lifting many Nigerians out of poverty.”

While stating that the dwindling price of crude oil had adversely affected budgetary projections and underscores the imperative of diversifying the economy, Buhari, however, expressed delight that the projects commissioned would enhance the development of the National Digital Economy and support efforts at diversifying the economy.

“The Digital Economy will also support us in fighting corruption through digitalization and enabling government digital services. Digital technologies have become a useful platform for economic diversification. Having recognised the benefits of these technologies we have decided to adopt the Digital Economy paradigm early,” he said.

Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, emphasised the centrality of broadband penetration to reviving the Nigerian economy. He said it has been proven that 10 per cent broadband penetration in any country will improve its GDP by at least 4.6 per cent.

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The Minister explained that with Coronavirus contagion spreading across the globe and more people living in isolation, the digital and information communication sector is providing alternatives for people to stay in touch and institutions to provide the needed basic life-saving services to the populace.

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