MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd has called for a National Broadband Policy to serve as a roadmap for broadband penetration and service delivery in the country. Mr Akinwale Goodluck, MTN Corporate Service Executive, made the call at a capacity-building session for journalists in Abuja. Broadband are signs that use a wide range of frequencies.

Goodluck said that lack of a broadband policy posed greater challenge to ICT services in the country.
“Government also needs to articulate policies and strategies for driving broadband usage through eGovernance, eCommerce and eEconomy services. Broadband penetration is meaningless without appropriate regulatory environment which will enhance the delivery of converged services,” he said.

Speaking on the Importance of Broadband Access in Nigeria, Akinwale noted the unavailability of backbone infrastructure, Local Content Development and Rollout Support also hindered the penetration of broadband across the country. He said that in order to encourage aggressive rollout of long-distance and metropolitan fibre infrastructure, MTN in December 2010, added 693.8 km of backbone and 44.64 km of metro fiber to expand its capacity.

Akinwade said that widespread penetration of broadband infrastructure and services were critical for actualising the country’s socio-economic potentials. He noted that with Broadband penetration, there could be access in rural communities to health information technologies (HIT).

“Use of broadband-enabled telemedicine and HIT tools reduce medical errors even in urban areas. Possibilities are almost limitless, allowing teleconsultations, teleradiology and remote monitoring. Farmers can use broadband internet access for market information, purchase of equipment, seedlings and other inputs. Animal husbandry is improved through instant access to teleVeterinary services,” Akinwade said.

He stressed the need to address Multiple Regulation, which imposed unstructured fees and charges by the various levels of government and service interruptions arising from collection attempts. Alhaji Yusuf Alli, Editor, Northern Operations, the Nation Newspaper, tasked the ICT journalists on investigative journalism.

Alli put the state of investigative journalism in Nigeria at about two per cent, adding that both the print and electronic media devoted a greater part of their time to routine stories. He listed the factors inhibiting investigative journalism in the country to include weak laws and absence of Freedom of Information Act, cultural factors, media ownership and poor working conditions for journalists.

Others, he said, were the lack of courage, corruption by political and business class, low entry requirements for journalism practice and insecurity.  Alli, however, called for the establishment of investigative desks by broadcast and print media.

The theme of the session, which was attended by journalists from different media organisations, was Current Trends in the Telecommunications Industry.

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