By Emmanuel Elebeke
Federal government says it is currently pleading with the governors to cooperate in eliminating all bottlenecks inhibiting broadband penetration in the country by making them to understand that broadband is key and major contributor to our economic growth and development.
The minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami disclosed this on Thursday while signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Business Machine, IBM on digital literacy in his office.
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Pantami, who lamented the perennial challenges facing the industry said that part of the strategies it adopted in tackling the current challenges in the country is to synergise with the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF since it had been proven that every increase in broadband penetration directly reflects in the nation’s GDP growth.
He pointed out that broadband remains a critical factor in achieving digital literacy assuring that the administration would leave no stone unturned in ensuring that every bottleneck in broadband deployment is eliminated.
‘‘We are still having challenges like the issue of Right of Way, we are pleading with the governors to understand that broadband is key to our economic growth and development. It will increase the nation’s GDP.
‘‘Part of the policy is digital literacy and skills which are critical to achieving digital economy. We have a huge digital literacy gap in the country especially in the rural areas. One of the objectives is to create a pool of Nigerians with digital skills and that can be validated through Globally recognized certification.
‘‘To implement digital economy, you must have broadband, we want to ensure that the broadband strategy is implemented, we want to increase broadband penetration. We are still having challenges like the issue of Right of Way, we are pleading with the governors to understand that broadband is key to our economic growth and development. It will increase the nation’s GDP.
‘‘The broadband penetration is currently at 37.5 percent, we are making progress and we are addressing the obstacles to our broadband penetration.’’
On the MOU with IBM, which is expected to take off in February Pantami said the agreement when implemented will bridge digital gap in the country, particularly between the academia and industry.’
‘‘Most of our institutions are focused on certificate. We are working with relevant institutions to ensure that the gap is bridged. We have digital economy for digital Nigeria,’’ the Minister said.
Earlier in his address, the Country General Manager, IBM Nigeria, Dipo Faulkner stated that Digital Economy and emerging technologies have brought changes in skill requirements as well as unemployment, as well as in jobs creation globally today.
He stressed the need to bridge the gap between the academia and the industry, noting that the importance acquiring skills cannot be over emphasized.
He however, expressed commitment in bring digital literacy to all Nigerians, which according to him is free.
‘‘There is need to bridge the gap between education and entrepreneurship to ensure that people don’t acquire education alone but that they have skills for self sustainability and development of their environment .
‘‘IBM Digital Nations Africa online platform is for digital literacy and its free . It is our hope that this will be mutual benefiting, and it is on this platform that the MOU is built. This will be IBM’s contributions to Nigeria to help bridge the skills gap. We cannot afford to be left behind in the digital economy,’’ Faulkner affirmed.
Highlight of the event was the signing of the MoU by the Minister on behalf of Federal government and Mr. Faukner on behalf of IBM.