The World Bank has charged Nigeria to ensure that the rural areas is covered in its broadband penetration drive to provide internet access to rural dwellers.
Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director, made the call while speaking on the sidelines of the maiden Digital Economy Regional Conference on Tuesday in Abuja.
The two-day conference has the theme: “Positioning West African Digital Economy for the Future”
Chaudhuri, while stating that there is enormous potentials in the Nigeria’s digital sector, added that there is the need for more reforms going forward.
“The ministry also did talk about broadband penetration. It is important to make sure that no one is left behind especially poor families mostly in the rural areas.
“I think the key thing is, how do we make sure that every person, no matter where they are in Nigeria has that same access to the digital economy?
“Nigeria’s young population has tremendous potential but you have to ensure that there is equal access to broadband penetration.
“In places like Lagos, Abuja there is a lot of dynamism already but what the Minister has said is getting that access out to the rural areas so that every child and every young person has that access.
“I think the telecom sector has been quite key to Nigeria’s resilience in the last three years,” he said.
He further urged states to cooperate with the Federal Government and private sector to invest by laying fiber optics in the areas.
“I urge states to cooperate with federal government and make it easy for private firms to lay the fibers for investment.
“Second is digital skill, especially for the girl child to have access to digital skills so that they can be able to contribute to areas of growth going forward,” he said.
In his remarks, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami, declared that by April this year, every state would have federal government optic fiber cable coverage.
The Minister noted that the price of data in the country has in the last two years been reduced by 70 per cent despite rising cost of production.
His words: “As of today, we are providing federal government optic fiber cable to every state. We have them in nothing less than 34 states and by April this year, it will be available in each and every state.
“In Nigeria’s National Broadband plan we have a target to reduce the price of 1 gigabyte from 1200 to 390 Naira but as of today, two years before the deadline, the current price of 1 gigabyte is 350.
“The reduction of more than 70 per cent is a huge achievement because the price of every other commodity increases.
“If you complain about diesel the ICT sector consume more diesel than any other sectors.
“We are affected by cost of diesel, we are being affected by forex, but yet the price is coming down, why? Because we always work harder to ensure that we reduce the cost of production.”
Pantami said the Digital Conference became necessary due to the need for the various West African countries to converge and deliberate on how to boost the continent’s economy using Information Communication Technology (ICT).
“If you look at our economy growth, it is lower than our population growth. There are situations where the population growth is higher than the economic growth.
“This, by implication if care is not taken, the poverty will continue to increase within that population and in this context within the Africa continent.
“It is because of this we feel it is necessary to be proactive to organise West African continent so that we can come together and see how we can complement each other.
“This is to make sure that our sub-region is specific and our continent in general is very successful.” he added.
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