By Emmanuel Elebeke
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isah Ali Ibrahim Pantami says the ongoing Right of Way (RoW) reform is the key to unlocking Nigeria’s digital economy for inclusive digital growth.
He said the RoW issue lingered for 13 years without solution in sight until his intervention which broke the jinx within one year in office after he worked with the Nigerian Governors Forum to achieve some important results.
Pantami made the assertion in his keynote address at the first Nigeria Technical Conference on the Right of Way (RoW) .
The conference was to further aggregate views from key stakeholders, towards the advancement of policy and regulatory reforms on Right of Way (RoW) and Issuance of Planning permits for Mast and Towers.
It was in collaboration with the UK Government’s Digital Access Programme and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in Abuja.
He said: “Nigeria has in the last one year of my time as Minister, added 10 percent to the broadband penetration level in the country. RoW reforms is the key to unlocking Nigeria’s digital economy for inclusive digital growth and we have worked with the Nigerian Governors Forum to achieve some important results already. We will continue to champion this reform on RoW and work on the challenges identified by the technical study.
‘’I want to thank the UK Government for supporting the Nigeria Digital Economy agenda. Earlier the UK Government supported us in the development of the new national broadband plan through the Digital Access Programme.’’
In his remarks, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Communications Commission, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, expressed gratitude to the UK Government’s Digital Access Programme for their support in championing reforms on RoW to deepen digital inclusion in Nigeria, stating that their assistance on RoW reforms would compliment Federal government’s effort in deepening broadband penetration.
‘’The Technical Assistance on RoW reforms will assist in our quest for deepening broadband penetration in Nigeria. NCC is willing and ready to advance the reforms noted in the technical study and will collaborate with stakeholders to effect it in the short, medium and long term,” he added.
Meanwhile the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing said the COVID19 pandemic has made the world rely more heavily on internet connectivity for access to basic necessities of life such as health, education, work, shopping, convenience and other services and as such, substantial digital inequities have been revealed.
“Nigeria has seen great progress in the effort to provide inclusive digital access to millions of its citizens. The UK is keen to support the promotion of affordable, inclusive, safe and secure digital access for underserved or excluded populations, and this conference is a significant step to discuss the technical findings of our preliminary study, outcomes, lingering challenges and the way forward.
“I hope that today’s deliberation will culminate into an increased digital inclusion as a basis for a more thriving local tech ecosystem, generating skilled jobs and innovative solutions for local development challenges,” Laing said.