Barrister Adebayo Shittu, the new Minister for Communications has challenged stakeholders in the Nigerian technology sector to come up with new ideas that will promote growth of the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.
The new Minister who also said he is willing to learn from his predecessor, Dr Omobola Johnson, the pioneer Minister of Communication Technology and other industry stakeholders to promote growth in the ICT sector.
Shittu, a lawyer by profession admits he has little or no background knowledge about the ICT sector but says that as a seasoned administrator, he is open to new ideas and ready to collaborate with critical stakeholder in the industry to deliver the desired result of the National Broadband Plan.
The new Minister said this at the event which also had in attendance his predecessor, Omobola Johnson.
”It is a great privilege for me to meet with some of the critical stakeholder in the ICT sector today and I know that coming here today avail me the opportunity to learn even more”, Adebayo said at the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), Nigeria coalition meeting held recently in Lagos.
[blockquote right=”pull-right”]At the Victoria Crown Plaza Hotel venue of the meeting in Lagos, the new Minister also surprised every attendee by handing them his complimentary card explaining that ”everyone is free to send me proposal on innovation and ideas on how best we can move this sector forward.”[/blockquote]
At the Victoria Crown Plaza Hotel venue of the meeting in Lagos, the new Minister also surprised every attendee by handing them his complimentary card explaining that ”everyone is free to send me proposal on innovation and ideas on how best we can move this sector forward.”
Shittu reckons that he will consolidate on the modest achievements recorded by Johnson, the immediate past Minister of Communications Technology including; facilitating universal, ubiquitous and cost effective access to communications infrastructure that includes a national fiber optic backbone.
He also promised to promote the utilization of ICT in all spheres of life to optimize the communications infrastructure
”I am aware that the Federal Government of Nigeria came up with a plan to enhance the penetration of Internet in the country and that contained in the National Broadband Plan. This is very apt as access to the Internet in this 21st Century information and knowledge age has become a basic human right and so is its affordability,”
The Minister said that the President Muhammed Buhari-led government plans to have more Nigerians having seamless access to broadband and the internet, which he belives that the national broadband plan 2013-2018 clearly articulates the importance of affordability in doing so.
“I commend your group (A4AI) for bringing this idea to the fore, aiming for 30 percent penetration by the year 2018. It is my understanding that the implementation of this plan nationwide has been slow and fraught with multifarious challenges but I wish to assure you that change has come in this regard”, Shittu told the tech forum.
”I wish to thank the Honorary Chairman of the Alliance for affordable Internet and my predecessor for her excellent work and the contributions of her team many of whom I have fortunately inherited, in carrying the baton thus far”, he adds while referring to Johnson.
”This is evident by Nigeria improved ranking in A4AI’s 2014 affordability report, giving it a rank of 11 out of 51 overall- it was ranked 19th the year before”, according to the Minister.
Johnson, the immediate past Minister for Communication Technology and the chairperson of A4AI reckons that there is need for advancing from the advocacy stage to impact stage.
“We need to start working together not just in terms of advocacy but in impact, working with Nigeria Communication Commission, Ministry of Communication, telcos to ensure that what we (A4AI) are doing here has an outcome on what we are working towards that is, getting Internet at an affordable price”, Johnson told the forum.
She noted that A4AI aims to increase the affordability of both mobile and fixed-line Internet access dramatically, with a focus on achieving the UN Broadband Commission Broadband Target of entry-level broadband services priced at less than 5% of average monthly income.
‘’The ITU price is not more than 5 percent of income, very tough for us as a country because we live in a country where most Nigerians live below $2 per day. But it is not impossible for us to achieve the affordability of high-speed Internet”, she said.
In his submission Dr Ernest Ndukwe, National coordinator of A4AI believes that regulations and policies barriers should not pose a threat to the affordability of broadband internet in Nigeria
‘’There should be a clear focus of regulation and policies because that’s the springboard for takeoff we need to have good policies which usually come from the government. There should be no point where regulation and policies impediment stop the growth of broadband in our country”, according to Ndukwe.
The former NCC boss noted that all hands should be on deck for the full realization of 30% broadband penetration in Nigeria by 2018.
According to Ndukwe, “there is a lot of demand that is still not yet met because every mobile users should be a broadband user and that’s what we advocated in the National Broadband Plan that all networks should be at least 3G and off course 4G and when that happens, we would have many more broadband users.”