The Executive Vice Chairman/ CEO, Nigerian Communications Commission, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta on Thursday addressed the 9th Lagos Public Relations Stakeholders’ Conference on Leadership and Poverty Eradication.
The EVC, represented by NCC’s Head, Corporate Communications, Mrs Nnena Ukoha, called on Nigerians to explore opportunities in the Digital Economy to eradicate poverty in the country.
Speaking on the topic, ‘Poverty Eradication in Nigeria: Leveraging Opportunities in a Digital Economy’, the EVC noted: “For most developing countries, particularly those with large populations, inadequate infrastructure has made it difficult to participate as equal partners in the worldwide enterprise of knowledge production and dissemination. This portends an unequal distribution of access, resources and opportunities in this new economy, the Digital Economy. To avert the birth of a new type of poverty (Information Poverty), the ICT gap (digital divide) between the developed and developing nations must be bridged.”
He further stated that Nigeria, like most developing nations, is not enjoying the full benefits of the ICT revolution due to inadequate telecommunication infrastructure, capacity to maintain existing infrastructure, and policies for equitable public participation as producers and consumers of information and knowledge.
The EVC further noted some proactive steps embarked on by the government. “There are several past and on-going efforts by the Nigerian Government to alleviate poverty through ICT using organizations and programmes like the National Information Technology Agency (NITDA), using the offices of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) across the country as ICT hubs, the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) to ensure that telecommunications services are accessible to the widest number of people (and communities) at affordable prices. USPF has poverty-reducing activities like the Community Resource Centers, USPF Hackathon, RUBI (Rural Broadband Initiative), UnICC (University Inter-Campus Connectivity), IRC (Information Resource Centres), SKC (School Knowledge Centres), and the E-Health Project.”
He said that NCC will continue to support the vision of the present government to put Nigeria amongst the top twenty in the comity of Nations and to align the nation’s developmental goals in keeping with the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but particularly the goal to eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere which is currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day, by year 2030.
Prof Danbatta listed initiatives at the NCC directly or indirectly target poverty eradication to include the Advanced Digital Appreciation Programme (DAP), a special intervention programme to address the digital information knowledge gap in the country, especially among the teeming youthful population, which supports 229 Secondary Schools across the Six Geopolitical Zones of Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory; NCC-DBI (Digital Bridge Institute) Projects, which came into existence in 2004 to impact on the national ICT human capital building efforts by bridging the ICT knowledge gap.
Other initiatives are the Advanced Digital Appreciation Programme for Tertiary Institutions, (ADAPTI) aimed at bridging the digital divide existing in academia with the provision of computers and other ICT facilities to equip the lecturers and other experts in order to improve ICT skills and also to enrich the students; Frequency Auction, which contributes to the National Purse, and Value Added Services (VAS).
On broadband and poverty, the EVC pointed to the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020–2025, which devotes an entire section to targets, strategies and roadmaps to promote pervasive broadband deployment, increased broadband adoption, usage and availability to all at affordable prices. These all point to government’s commitment to harmonizing and utilizing the benefits derivable from ICT for the good of all.
He assured that the Federal Government is committed to sustainable development of the ICT subsector for the growth of the economy and the eradication of poverty. “This was made evident during the just concluded Communications sector retreat where the Ministry of Communications and the agencies under it converged to chart a five-year plan that would make communications services, affordable, accessible, and available to all persons in Nigeria.”
He noted that: “The credit for Nigeria’s ambitious broadband pursuit is traced to the potentials and prospects of broadband technology, the ease of deployment and the vast opportunities available through it. The Commission will continue to put strategies in place to pursue last mile deployment of broadband. This would ensure small businesses are positioned to compete globally and communities and individuals are able to create wealth through access to ICT.”
The EVC concluded that by providing access to information, making markets more efficient, fostering social inclusion, and equalizing opportunities in rural areas, ICT offers an innovative and unprecedented tool to directly reduce poverty.
Other speakers at the event include Founder and Chairman, Heirs Holdings, Mr Tony Elumelu; Director General, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr Segun Ajayi-Kadir; Director Strategy, Funding and Stakeholders Management, LSETF, Sheila Ojei; the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Lagos State, Mrs Cecilia Bolaji Dada and Economist and Consultant at the University of Lagos, Dr Oluseye Ajuwon.
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