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‘Nigeria is policy ready for 4IR, but infrastructure gap is huge’

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NCC Executive Vice-Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta PHOTO: Twitter


With the world gradually moving towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), Nigeria is said to have the regulatory framework to drive it, but infrastructure gap will be the greatest challenge.

This was made known at the virtual session of the Third Discourse Series, organised by Advocaat Law Practice with the theme: “Powering The Fourth Industrial Revolution in Nigeria.”

The Keynote Speaker, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, said Nigeria is not lacking in key policy and regulatory frameworks for 4IR.

Danbatta, who was represented by the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, NCC, Barr. Adeleke Adewolu, informed the gathering that the Commission is aware of the critical need to harness the contributions of all critical stakeholders across all industry platforms and professional groups to ensure citizens fully participate in the 4IR as drivers and innovators.

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At the event, which was anchored by the National Coordinator, Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), Olusola Teniola, the EVC, who expressed hope that NCC “can continue to count on the support of all stakeholders in this quest,” said that the theme for the session was of immense importance at this stage of the nation’s development, as it gives stakeholders an opportunity to assess ongoing efforts and refocus collective energies as appropriate.

Providing a contextual background to the discourse, Danbatta said the 4IR brings with it the potential to connect billions of people to digital networks ad dramatically improve the efficiency of organisation”.

“Putting this within the Nigerian context, the challenge before us today is clear. It is one we must approach with the strongest resolve, and with the full co-operation of all critical Stakeholders in order to ensure that “no one is left behind” in the evolving digital future,” he said.

According to him, harnessing the opportunities of the 4IR as a nation will require effective guiding frameworks to address the various aspects of the digital ecosystem and ensure their effective interworking in the national interest.

The EVC explained Nigeria is not lacking in key policy and regulatory frameworks and instruments which will enable the country to play a leading role in powering the 4IR era.

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Citing examples, Danbatta reminded about the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy Policy (2020-2030), which boasts of eight pillars designed to, amongst others enable Nigeria become a leading player in the global digital economy; provide a catalyst to facilitate the diversification of the economy; and accelerate the attainment of the key national objectives of improving security, reducing corruption and expanding the economy.

“Similarly, the Nigerian National Broadband Policy (2020-2024) clearly highlights the various implementation strategies that would aid the pervasive inclusion and rollout of broadband services across the country whilst also developing a robust and holistic digital economy.

“The NCC’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP 2020-2024 or “ASPIRE 2024”) consolidated on the vision we earlier articulated in the Strategic Vision Plan and 8-Point Agenda,” he stated.

The NCC boss said also made case for stakeholders to support the ongoing citizens’ identification and digital identity project.

“As we all know, the Federal Government has articulated a policy that all Nigerians must possess a unique National Identification Number (NIN) issued by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC); and that the NIN must be linked with all identity databases, particularly the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Registration database. To achieve this, we had to take the difficult decision of suspending the actuation of all new SIMs and to mandate all citizens to link their SIMs to their NINs.

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“I am pleased to note that we have achieved very significant success in the articulation of a template for the activation of new SIMs linked with authenticated NINs, and that the activation of new SIMs will now be carried out across the country in earnest,” he stated.

But from his own point of view, the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo said as an industry, “we are ready, but other sectors are struggling. We still battle stable power supply, no infrastructure, huge insecurity in the land, among others. Other sectors too need to be ready to ensure as a nation, we are ready for 4IR.”

Adebayo, an engineer, said while government must strive to create the enabling environment, there must be synergy among the levels of government (FG, SG and LG).

To the CEO, Youverify, Gbenga Odegbami, broadband is key to 4IR. While querying the relevance of the New National Broadband Plan (NNBP 2020 to 2025), he said access to broadband is a catalyst, stressing that the 70 per cent target is good enough for next five years, “but in the next five year, where will the other part of the world be.’

Odegbami said the infrastructure to drive digital transformation is still very low in the country. According to him, data is also critical to 4IR, “but without actual data protection, there could be problems.”

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