In an effort to increase penetration of services as well as promote digital culture in Nigeria, the top Management staff of Facebook, a leading global digital services provider paid an official visit to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The meeting was held in order to explore opportunities for collaboration and partnership for infrastructure deployment to strengthen connectivity, enhance businesses and bolster citizens’ embrace of digital culture.
The Facebook Infrastructure team, led by Network Investments, Emerging Market Lead of Facebook Office in the United States, Mr Ibrahima Ba informed the communications minister, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami on its plan to partner with the Nigerian Government in the areas of Broadband Penetration and Digital Literacy and Skills Development in a bid to support the pillars of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy.
In his remarks, Pantami pledged the Federal Government of Nigeria openness to a partnership with the Tech Giant.
The Minister said, “Facebook as a Social Networking Platform is one of the major stakeholders we have in Nigeria with most Nigerians addicted to the social network platform.”,
Hr also informed the Facebook team that the National Executive Council of Nigeria chaired by the Vice President of the Country, Prof Yemi Osinbajo have agreed on N145.5 per linear meter as the price of Right of Way (RoW) and called on the team to honour the laws of the land while deploying the proposed broadband infrastructures.
Speaking with NCC, while underscoring the centrality of infrastructure to the flourishing of digital culture, Ba stated that robust infrastructure is the bedrock of the massive connectivity that signposts Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, because without adequate and right type of infrastructure there can be no robust connectivity.
Ba recalled that Facebook had successfully undertaken two connectivity projects in Edo and Ogun involving a total of 800 kilometers of fibre connecting institutions and operators towers.
He said that, considering the connectivity gap that still exists in the country, there is a great need for more and even further expansion of infrastructure because increased penetration of services will require further deployment of infrastructure which will encourage investment and promote digital culture.
According to Ba, Nigeria is very important to Facebook for many reasons but particularly because it is Africa’s most populous country. Hence the desires and dedication by Facebook to explore further opportunities for partnerships in infrastructure expansion.
He also emphasised that Facebook looks forward to seeing opportunities for partnerships manifest because such collaboration will result in kilometres of infrastructure expansion in fibre connectivity.
He, however advised the Commission to facilitate further liberalisation of partnership and collaboration processes with stakeholders.
On his part, the Deputy Director Technical Standards and Network Integrity at NCC, Edoyemi Ogoh who led the team that received the Facebook delegation on behalf of the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive (EVC/CE) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, thanked the Facebook team for the visit.
Ogoh commended the group for the model it has adopted in participating in the Nigerian market by partnering with licensees of the Commission, and assured the team of NCC’s irrevocable commitment to infrastructure expansion to enhance better connectivity.
He affirmed that NCC is aware of how central infrastructure is to the expansion of telecom services, and said that the realisation explained NCC’s adoption of the Open Access Model (OAM) and the licensing of infrastructure companies (Infracos) to cascade fibre to the hinterland of Nigeria.
Ogoh also informed the guests that President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent re-designation of NCC’s supervising ministry as Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy speaks further to Federal Government’s commitment to encouraging more citizens to embrace digital culture.
He declared that the Commission is central to these processes, and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has continued to also demonstrate his commitment to tackling bottlenecks to infrastructure expansion.
He cited the recent meetings between the Minister, the EVC and Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) which focused on streamlining and standardizing Right of Way (RoW) charges as eloquent testimony to Government’s commitment in this regard.
Ogoh also stated that the Commission is finalising processes to institute the ‘Dig Once Policy’ that will encourage operators and other key players in infrastructure segment to have greater strategic collaboration in the laying of fibre especially in the context of the upcoming National Broadband Plan 2020-2025.
Ba came to NCC with four of his colleagues – Erik Schmidt, Network Strategy Manager, Facebook Infrastructure; Adaora Ikenze, Head West Africa (Public Policy); Imran Abass, Partner Manager, Sub Sahara Africa; and Fargani Tambeayuk, Africa Public Policy Manager (Connectivity).
In a note of thanks and closing remarks by the Deputy Director Legal and Regulatory Services at NCC, Jerry Ugwu expressed delight at the meeting, which was initiated by Facebook. He said NCC will explore the proposition by Facebook further and hope that discussions with Facebook will continue in order to give concrete expressions to the desires and vision of the two organisations.
The commission stressed its openness and commitment to partnerships that encourage infrastructure deployment with the right licensees