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WB tasks FG with Rural Broadband coverage

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By Abiodun Okunloye

FG to ensure broadband coverage to rural regions to boost its digital economy.

During the commencement of the two-day 2023 Digital Economy Regional Conference organized by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and its agencies in Abuja with the theme: “Positioning West African Digital Economy for the Future,” The World Bank encouraged the Federal Government to enhance Broadband coverage in rural regions to provide local residents with improved Internet Access, hence boosting the Digital Economy agenda. Shubham Chaudhuri, the country director for The World Bank, made the statement at the conference stating that Nigeria’s digital sector had a great deal of potential and that more initiatives were needed.

Regarding Broadband adoption, the ministry emphasized the need to ensure that no one is left behind, especially poor people who are primarily located in rural areas. According to him, the most important question is how to guarantee that all residents of Nigeria have the same level of access to the digital world. The youth of Nigeria has enormous potential, but leaders there must ensure that everyone has access to high-speed Internet. There is currently a great deal of engagement in major cities like Lagos and Abuja, but the Minister has stressed the importance of expanding access to rural areas to ensure that everybody can benefit.

Optic fiber cable will be distributed to every state by April 2023.

In his address, Prof. Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy stated that the Federal Government’s goal was to have fibre optic cable penetrate throughout every state by April of this year. He added that, despite increases in the cost of production, data prices in the country had dropped by 70% over the past two years. The Federal Government is now delivering fibre optic cable to all states, and it is currently available in no fewer than 34 states, and by April of this year, it will be obtainable in every single state.

With the country’s National Broadband Plan, it is intended to lower the cost of a gigabyte from 1200 to 390 Naira, but at the moment, two years before the projected timeframe, the cost is 350 Naira. A decrease of more than 70 percent is an impressive accomplishment, given that the cost of every other product is rising. If individuals are concerned about diesel, the information and communications Technology sector should be more concerned because it uses more than any other sector.

If the country’s population outgrows its economy, poverty might worsen.

Data prices are decreasing as companies work diligently to ensure that they lower the cost of production, despite the fact that several external factors, such as currency exchange rates and the price of diesel, have an impact on the industry. As Prof. Pantami explained, the idea behind the Digital Economy Conference was to bring together leaders from throughout West Africa to discuss how to improve the continent’s economy through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

Compared to the rise of the country’s population, the rate of Economic Expansion is lower. On occasion, population growth outpaces Economic Expansion. This implies that if precautions are not taken, Poverty in that region and, more generally, in Africa will worsen. That’s why they’re taking the initiative to get the West African continent organized so its nations can meet and figure out how best to support one another. For the success of the continent as a whole and of the sub-region in particular, he explained, this is necessary.

The state, federal government and private sector need to collaborate.

Over the past three years, Nigeria’s endurance may be mainly attributed to the country’s telecommunications industry. The country director for The World Bank also suggested to the state governments that they work together with the Federal Government as well as the Private Sector to invest in the deployment of fiber optics in the areas. The second thing that he mentioned was the need to have access to digital skills, particularly for young girls, so that they are able to contribute to developing new areas of the economy in the future.

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