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UK, Nigeria partner on RoW policy, regulatory reforms

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Britain, through its Prosperity Fund’s Digital Access Programme, has taken the next step in its pledge to promote inclusive and sustainable digital access to underserved communities in Nigeria.

In collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the programme, yesterday, hosted the first Nigeria Technical Conference on the Right of Way (RoW) to further aggregate views from key stakeholders, towards the advancement of policy and regulatory reforms on RoW and Issuance of Planning permits for Mast and Towers.

The virtual forum is one of the key deliverables of the UK’s Technical Assistance project on RoW, initiated in April 2020 to assess the existing strategy, charging regime and measure it against economic development indicators of the current regime.

In her opening remarks, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, commended the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isah Pantami, for his efforts towards inclusive digital access.

“Nigeria has seen great progress in the effort to provide inclusive digital access to millions of its citizens. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) 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 United Kingdom is keen to support the promotion of affordable, inclusive, safe and secure digital access for underserved or excluded populations, 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,” she said.

The minister stated in the keynote address: “I thank the UK government for supporting the Nigeria Digital Economy agenda. Earlier, the UK government had supported us in the development of the new national broadband plan through the 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. RoW reform is the key to unlocking Nigeria’s digital economy for inclusive digital growth and we have worked with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) to achieve some important results already. We will continue to champion these reforms on RoW and work on the challenges identified by the technical study.”

Checks showed that broadband penetration as at June was 41.3 per cent with about 78 million Nigerians having access.

Reacting to the technical study and the next steps, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, represented by the Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management (ECSM), Adeleke Adewolu, also thanked the UK government’s Digital Access Programme for their support in championing reforms on RoW to deepen digital inclusion in Nigeria.


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