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MSMEs, Schools, Others to Benefit From N16.7bn Broadband Access Projects

Broadband access projects worth N16.7 billion aimed to accelerate the Nigeria digital economy efforts of the federal government are expected to be enjoyed by several organisations in the country.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami, speaking at an event in Abuja recently, stated that those to benefit from the projects include Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), 18 universities, and six polytechnics from each of the six geopolitical zones in the country.

The Minister was at the unveiling of the projects being driven by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) at Transcorp Hilton.

He said the projects underscore the importance of broadband connectivity and access as central to the accomplishment of the targets of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030 for a digital Nigeria.

Mr Pantami, who was joined by the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr Mohammed Bello, disclosed that the key infrastructure being provided for the projects comprises broadband infrastructure for tertiary institutions, broadband infrastructure for MSMEs, distribution of 6,000 e-pad tablets, in addition to the provision of broadband connectivity to 20 markets as a pilot.

He 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 the COVID-19 outbreak, and now constitute 96.7 per cent of entire businesses in the country, and therefore, “any effort to develop our economy without bringing the such important sector into the equation will amount to efforts in futility.”

In their remarks, the Chairman of the NCC board, Mr Adeolu Akande, and the Executive Vice Chairman of the commission, Mr Umar Danbatta, agreed that the projects would fast-track and enhance the ongoing efforts of the agency to deepen connectivity towards achieving the targeted broadband penetration of 70 per cent by 2025.

Mr Akande assured of the commitment of the commission in completing the projects, which will add the necessary fillip to achieving the major objectives spelt out in the NDEPS, 2020-2030, while Mr Danbatta said the organisation was determined to improve broadband penetration in the country.

He said the commission would promote digital skills acquisition to improve service delivery in education, commerce, healthcare, agriculture, finance, transportation, and governance, among others.

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