By Funmilola Gboteku
Lagos, Aug. 13, 2020 The UK government says it has partnered with the Nigerian government to advance policy and regulatory reforms on right of way in the country.
The UK government made this known during the first Nigeria Technical Conference on Right of Way (RoW) organised by its Prosperity Fund Digital Access Programme.
The webinar was organised in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The aim was to further discuss 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.
The UK government says, through its Prosperity Fund’s Digital Access Programme, it has taken the next step in its pledge to support and promote inclusive and sustainable digital access to the unserved and underserved communities in Nigeria.
In her opening remarks, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing said: “Nigeria has seen great progress in the effort to provide inclusive digital access to millions of its citizens.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has, however, made the world rely more heavily on internet connectivity for access to basic necessities – health, education, work, shopping, convenience and other services, as such, substantial digital inequities have been revealed.
“The UK is keen to support the promotion of affordable, inclusive, safe and secure digital access for underserved 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.”
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Ibrahim Pantami, in his keynote address, said: “I want to thank the UK Government for supporting the Nigeria Digital Economy agenda.
He noted that earlier the UK Government had supported Nigeria in the development of new national broadband plan through its Digital Access Programme.
“Nigeria has in the last one year of my time as Minister added 10 per cent to the broadband penetration level in the country,” he said.
Pantami said RoW reforms was the key to unlocking Nigeria’s digital economy for inclusive digital growth, noting that the ministry had worked with the Nigerian Governors Forum to achieve some important results already.
He said the ministry would continue to champion the reforms on RoW and work on the challenges identified by the technical study.
Commenting, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigeria Communications Commission, Prof Umar Danbatta, commended the UK Government’s Digital Access Programme for its support in championing reforms on RoW to deepen digital inclusion in Nigeria.
Danbatta who was represented by the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, (ECSM) at NCC, Mr Adeleke Adewolu said: “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.
Also speaking, the UK Government’s Digital Access Programme Adviser and Country Lead, Idongesit Udoh, said: “This project will help accelerate the roll-out of backbone connectivity infrastructure to underserved communities.
He noted that the project was key to unlocking Nigeria’s digital economy for inclusive, digitally-enabled growth, development and job creation for Nigerians.
“The Digital Access Programme is also working on other projects such as cybersecurity essentials upskilling for SMEs around the country and basic digital literacy to promote inclusive economic growth and development,”Udoh said.
Naija247news reports that the virtual forum is one of the key deliverables of the UK’s Technical Assistance project on RoW, which was initiated in April 2020 to assess the existing strategy, changing regime and measure economic development indicators.