By Emma Okonji
The Minister of Communications, Dr. Adebayo Shittu, has reiterated the need to sensitise and create necessary awareness on the Public Internet Access Policy and its implication for national development.
He stated this during a one-day stakeholders workshop on the Role of Public Internet Access for Economic Development, held in Abuja recently.
The minister said issues like deployment models, availability, accessibility, infrastructure sharing, affordability, relevance, online safety, data security, governance, pervasiveness, equal access, standardisation, broadband, infrastructure rollout, right of way, are new challenges confronting the nation on daily basis.
Shittu, stated that one of the models being adopted recently was the provision of free internet access by Public Internet Access Providers (PIAPs) in strategic locations to help more Nigerians connect to the internet in pursuit of social and developmental objectives for a return on investment (ROI) through advertisement or other means.
The minister said public internet access would create jobs and help local SMEs compete with global brands adding that the security of the user, both personally and in the transmission of information, is of paramount importance to the government.
“It is in the light of the foregoing that National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to come up with the Framework and Guidelines on the provision and use of public internet access in Nigeria,” Shittu said.
He noted that the internet space had been characterised by high cost of access, low broadband penetration and poor internet infrastructure as well as the poor enabling environment.
He explained that the solution to the challenges were beyond the government’s intervention and encourage more Nigerians to participate in the global digital economy, private organisations and international partners to support the government in different strategic ways.
In his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communications, Musa Istifanus, pointed out that the main thrust of the workshop was to create an enabling platform for key stakeholders to come together and engage in an interactive forum to discuss various related issues so that progress can be made in the ICT sector and Public Internet provisioning and usage.
Country Director, Google, Juliet Ehimuan stated that Google was working with key stakeholders in the ICT sector to support many Nigerians to take advantage of the digital platform to empower themselves and enable home grown entrepreneurs to play a key role in the development of the economy.
“Google provides and supported African entrepreneurs’ technological start-up to the value of $3 million over three years from 2017 through a programme called Launchpad African Accelerator and Google operates through collaboration with partners,” Ehimuan said.