The Nigerian Communications Commission has called for increased synergy in the drive for effective e-government initiatives and services in Nigeria.
The Commission’s Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Prof. Umar Danbatta said the effective application of ICT to governance would help to remarkably increase Internally Generated Revenue, bring efficiency and convenience to government services delivery process, curb corruption practices and create lot of high skilled labour in the country.
Ably represented by NCC, Director of Public Affairs, Dr Henry Nkemadu, Danbatta made this charge at the maiden edition of “The Nigeria e-Government Conference” titled “E-Government: Powering Governance with Information and Communication Technology” organised by DigiServe Networks held in Lagos.
In his keynote address, Danbatta, who traced the deliberate decision of Nigerian government to embrace e-Government to the National Telecommunications Policy 2000, said that decision led to the growth of e-services and proliferation of government portals providing all kinds of e-services to citizens, businesses and stakeholders who are able to remotely and efficiently enjoy government services with the best known today being the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) among several other e-services.
According to him, a World Bank report pointed out that, while some countries are grappling with implementing their e-government strategies, others that have been seen as some of the leaders in e-government have now embarked on the next stage of their service transformation journey – often referred to as “Digital Government”.
“The paradigm shift means that while building on the investments and transformation made during the earlier phases of e-Government, and while some of the principles are still being developed, the next stage promises a sharper focus on the business principle that digital services should be the principal channel for delivering better governance”, he noted.
The EVC further stated that at the centre of e-government adoption is the Internet, which, he stated is an important infrastructure that must be available to both the government and the end-user citizens, businesses or other stakeholders to ensure effective interaction with the government.
He posited that Nigeria needs to deepen e-Government by examining four dimensions as directed by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which include: Infrastructure, Policy, Governance and Outreach dimensions. Nigeria needs policy that will protect local investors.
In this regard, Danbatta told the audience that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has continued to push various initiatives to deepen access to the Internet and by extension, Broadband services in the country.
“The Commission exceeded its 30% target for Broadband Penetration in 2018 and will continue its drive towards universal access as detailed in the framework of its 8 Point Agenda. As at August 2019, 2G subscriptions stood at 122.9 million, corresponding to 64.42 per cent of the population.
“Also, there were 49.7 million 3G subscriptions equivalent to 26.03 per cent of the population with 17.3 million 4G subscriptions representing 9.07 per cent of the population. Broadband penetration on 3G and 4G, which are categorised as Broadband networks, therefore stood at 35.10 per cent in August, 2019.
“The Commission is actively exploring the utilisation of television white space (TVWS) technology to expand affordable broadband services to rural areas, while we have issued Infrastructure Company (InfraCo) Licences to some organisations to deploy fibre across the geopolitical zones with Access Points in all the 774 local government areas of the Federation,” he said.
Also, he reiterated that the Commission hopes to increase the number of fibre deployment in Nigeria to 127,000 kilometre from its current 42,000 kilometer of fibre connectivity in the country.
Through the InfraCo initiative, therefore, the Commission expects additional 30,000 kilometre of fibre to be added. This, he said, is aside the results expected from major Mobile network Operators (MNOs), who also earmark resources, on a yearly basis, to expand their fibre deployment.
Danbatta, however, stated that the NCC is also working with the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and other necessary stakeholders towards addressing the perennial industry challenges such as the Right of Way (RoW) issues, multiple taxation and regulation, vandalism/fibre cuts, theft of telecoms equipment, insecurity, power problem, among others – all of which are critical industry issues- impeding fast Broadband infrastructure deployment in the country, which has impacted the level of access to government, businesses and individuals to enjoy e-government services.”
Other key speakers, who spoke at the conference included Ernest Ndukwe, former EVC of NCC; Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON); Olusola Teniola, President, Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON); representatives of other government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and other private sector key players.