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Broadband spectrum not free, says Johnson

By Prince Osuagwu

Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson, yesterday dropped the hint that government may not give out spectrum for free to operators interested in broadband roll out.

Omobola at the opening of the 2013 Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, CTO forum in Abuja, said that it would have been the easiest thing to do in order to facilitate broadband roll out from the shores to the hinterlands but that governments,every where in the world, needed some revenues to keep operations floating.

She therefore argued that although giving out the spectrums for free may facilitate roll out, but that it will also hurt the government with a spill effect to the same sector it was meant to face lift.

She however revealed that government was seeking for a cost balance for the spectrum so that the operators would not pay high price and government revenue generation would not be jeopardised. This way, according to Johnson, the journey to Nigeria’s broadband phenomenon would become a win-win business for stakeholders.

Nigeria’s roadmap to broadband development

Earlier, Johnson had made a passionate presentation of Nigeria’s roadmap to broadband development, in her welcome address, by saying that at the heart of deliberations at the event would be how to make high-speed access to the Internet more pervasive, affordable and safe to the citizens of Nigeria and to a larger extent, the Commonwealth, who make up close to 30% of the World’s population.

“Global Internet penetration rates have continued to increase and almost 40% of the world’s population are now online. However, the numbers of people connected to the Internet are fewer in developing countries than in more industrialised ones.

One of the priority areas of this Forum is to assess the different stages of broadband development and discover best practice strategies for moving forward; and is a topic that will be instructive in increasing Internet penetration rates in developing countries.

For example, while an increasing number of countries, including Nigeria, have recently developed or are developing National Broadband Plans; countries that had done so earlier such as the United Kingdom, provide important opportunities to learn about the implementation of such plans. These countries provide valuable insights on what works and why; as well as what can be improved upon and what to avoid during implementation”

Youth, early adopters of technology

For her, Internet penetration is fastest amongst the Youth and this is not surprising because young people, are predominantly early adopters of technology, particularly when it is affordable to them.

She contended that “the youth are also the fastest-rising population group and it is therefore apt that this Forum will focus on the use of ICTs by young people, including how they use such technologies to engage on governance and developmental issues.

In addition to the Youth as a demographic segment, the Forum will also host a session on women, empowerment and ICTs. Women make up about 50% of the population of the World and we cannot hope to achieve our socio-economic and development goals whilst isolating half of our potential. The success of our policies and initiatives depends on our ability to accurately identify the scale and nature of the gender divide that we are striving to bridge.

There is no denying the increasing influence of social media. Just as the Big Mac Index has developed to be the informal way of measuring the purchasing power parity between inhabitants of different countries; the number of Facebook users is becoming an informal indication of the social media activity of a country”.


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