Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Airtel Nigeria to expand broadband access in the state.
Broadband is the transmission of high-speed internet access.
Last year, El-Rufai waived right of way (RoW) charges for telcos to deepen broadband penetration and promote a digital economy.
RoW charge is a levy paid by telcos to state governments to dig up roads and install telecommunications hardware such as optic fibre cables that carry internet traffic.
During the signing ceremony on Friday in Kaduna, the governor said his government would ensure a minimum of 3G coverage in every part of the state.
“Let me begin by expressing our profound appreciation on behalf of the government and people of Kaduna State to Airtel for all that you have done in this state and continue to do. You are not only providing services that enhance lives and livelihoods, but also your corporate social responsibilities, like the school in Zaria and many other things that you are doing. I would like you to know for sure that we appreciate it. We are very grateful for all that you are doing,” El-Rufai said.
“This MoU is a major landmark for us as an administration because since we came into office we have identified about 41 locations in Kaduna State that are black-spots that have no telecom services at all. We have been pursuing the NCC to deploy the Universal Service Provision Fund to fill those gaps without much success.
“Our aspiration is for every part of Kaduna State to have minimum of 3G coverage. We are very grateful to Airtel for agreeing to be our partners in achieving this aspiration. 3G coverage is the minimum we need in this century for people to pursue quality lives and livelihoods. We believe in that very strongly and we are prepared work with you to achieve that.”
The governor further stated that the need to expand broadband access in Kaduna made the government budget N390m to build sites and give to the telcos.
“Our desire to achieve this aspiration pushed us to actually budget N390m to build sites with our own money and give to the telcos to use so that we have this 3G coverage. It is with great excitement that our CIO Gerald briefed us that Airtel has finally come on board to work with us to achieve this,” he added.
“Segun (Ogunsanya) and your team, I am extremely grateful. We will work with Airtel. We would make this work and we will all be proud of the outcome.
“Let’s make this work. Let’s provide the opportunities needed for our young people to not only have access to digital platforms but to acquire digital skills and prepare to be competitive in this century. The future of work is digital. The future of life is digital. The future of livelihoods is digital. And we believe that. Covid-19 has shown beyond all doubt that the future is virtual and digital.
“This agreement with Airtel for us is a landmark step in the life of this government. We hope to build on this. We hope that our successors will build even higher levels of penetration of digital technologies to every nook and cranny of Kaduna State.”
El-Rufai expressed gratitude to the management team and board of Airtel for agreeing to partner with the state in expanding broadband access.
On his part, Segun Ogunsanya, chief executive officer at Airtel Africa, said the management of Airtel would make sure the partnership work.
“I really look forward to this partnership, and I can assure you that my team and I will really make it work,” Ogunsanya said.
He also commended the governor for his excellent leadership skills and courage in handling complex issues.