‘Ubiquitous Broadband Key Survival Strategy Post COVID-19’

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Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative Gbenga Sesan

Emma Okonji

The Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, Mr. Gbenga Sesan, has said ubiquitous broadband access for all Nigerians, irrespective of their status in the society, will be a sure survival strategy in the post COVID-19 era, that is expected to usher in a new normal.

Sesan who spoke recently with other top management staff of the organisation during a Webinar, said Nigerians, including market men and women, needed unrestricted access to broadband in the post COVID-19 era, to enable them work from home, do businesses from home and communicate from remote locations without physical movement.

He insisted that government must provide broadband access at very low rate, such that low income earners, including petty traders could have unlimited access to broadband that would make them function well in post COVID-19 era.

Nigeria currently has 38.5 per cent broadband penetration across the country, but the federal government has come up with a 70 per cent broadband penetration target in its 2020-2025 National Broadband Plan.

Addressing the need for government to protect citizens’ right in the use of data during post COVID-19 era, Sesan said Paradigm Initiative took it upon itself to provide a platform that would allow people to report cases of digital rights violations.

According to him, “The platform will serve to collate cases of violations across the continent and it will allow us and our partners to coordinate best responses. Our goal is to ensure that no violation goes under the radar and also to create a safe space for citizens to report violations without fear and intimidation. We will continue to provide more information on this as the platform development continues.”

On the issue of national and state COVID-19 regulation.”
Sesan added: “We have been working with partners in Nigeria and Kenya to work on draft regulation that countries and states can adopt in response to the COVID19 pandemic. Our role in these partnerships is to ensure these drafts conform to international human rights standards and that interventions by authorities in respective states or countries leverage digital opportunities to ease communication, learning and other interventions.”

He further explained that Paradigm Initiative launched its 2019 Digital Rights in Africa Report in March 2020, with plans to premiere a short movie next month, that would showcase the report in a different way to resonate with a larger audience.

Digital Rights Program Manager at Paradigm Initiative, Adeboye Adegoke, said as an organisation, they were already aware of the impact that COVID-19 is having on the lives of millions of people. “More than ever, we recognise the importance that the internet plays during this uncertain time, serving as a lifeline that enables children to continue learning; families and friends to stay connected; and vital public health information to keep circulating. Access to the internet and its solutions can create healthier and safer communities, reduce vulnerabilities, and help build the resilience communities need to navigate this pandemic and emerge better prepared in the future,” Adegoke said.