By Emmanuel Adeleke
More than 22 tertiary institutions, comprising 18 universities and six polytechnic, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), from the six geopolitical zones in the country, have benefited from the Federal Government’s broadband infrastructure projects, designed to accelerate the Nigeria Digital Economy efforts.
A statement issued by NCC’s Director of Public Affairs,Reuben Muoka, on Friday, said the projects underscore the importance of broadband connectivity and access to the accomplishment of the targets of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030 for a digital Nigeria.
It also said that the project is in line with the mandates of President Buhari on job creation and economic diversification.
Speaking at the unveiling of the projects being driven by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, disclosed that the key infrastructure being provided for the project, comprise of broadband infrastructure for tertiary institutions of learning, broadband infrastructure for MSME; distribution of 6,000 e-pad tablets, in addition to provision of broadband connectivity to 20 markets as a pilot.
Pantami, who was joined by the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Mohammed Bello, also said the interest in supporting the MSMEs is justified by their current contribution of more than half of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) prior to COVID-19 outbreak, which he said now constitute 96.7 per cent of entire businesses in the country.
“Therefore, any effort to develop our economy without bringing such important sector into the equation will amount to efforts in futility,” he said.
In their separate remarks, NCC Chairman, Prof Adeolu Akande, and Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said that the project will fast-track and enhance the ongoing efforts of the commission to deepen connectivity towards achieving the targeted broadband penetration of 70 per cent by 2025.
Akande assured that the commission is committed to completing the projects, which he said will add the necessary fillip to achieving the major objectives spelt out in the NDEPS, 2020-2030.
Danbatta also highlighted the commission’s drive towards deepening broadband penetration in the country and the promotion of digital skills acquisition to improve service delivery in other sectors of the economy, including education, commerce, healthcare, agriculture, finance, transportation, governance, among others.
The event, which featured unveiling of a book authored by Pantami, titled, “Skills Rather Than Just Degrees” had in attendance the Chairman of the Board of the NCC, Prof. Adeolu Akande; the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta; the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed; and Executive Secretary, National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Prof Idris Bugaje.
Speaking, Pantami said the book is his intellectual contribution to bridging skills gap to enable Nigerians to tap into the opportunities that exist in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and other sectors of the economy.
The book was reviewed by three different vice chancellors – Prof. Muhammad Abdulazeez of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi; Prof Owuanari Georgewill of University of Port Harcourt; and Prof. Sagir Adamu Abbas of Bayero University, Kano.
They commended the efforts of the minister in putting his thoughts and experience to paper.
The event attracted so many stakeholders, especially from the academia, as well as technology enthusiasts, including prospective start-up companies, fintech organisations and other interested sectors whose activities are billed to be energized through diligent implementation of the NDEPS and other extant policies guiding the digital economy agenda of the Nigerian government.