NCC supports Bayelsa’s drive to strengthen digital infrastructure

Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta

By JOY ADARA, Abuja –

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has expressed its readiness to work with the Bayelsa State Government to accelerate the deployment of telecommunications infrastructure, digital literacy and skills in the state.

The Executive Vice President and Managing Director (EVC/CEO) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, reiterated this commitment during a courtesy visit by a delegation from Bayelsa State to NCC management in Abuja recently. .

Stating the purpose of the visit to the Commission, Bayelsa State Commissioner for Communications, Science and Technology, Dr. Promise Ekio Ekio, who led the delegation, said that the technology sector of the information and communications technology (ICT) is one of the critical areas that the state government has identified as a priority to accelerate the growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the state to boost employment young people in the state and stimulate their interest in digital culture.

Ekio said that although the plan to leverage ICT for socio-economic development in Bayelsa State has been at the forefront of the state government’s agenda, several commitments made by the Bayelsa State government State with industry stakeholders have yet to receive concrete action, reportedly due to the lack of robust telecommunications services in the state.

“Therefore, we fervently hope that this meeting will be the beginning of a partnership that will flourish in the areas of digital education and rapid development of ICT infrastructure, for the benefit of the people of Bayelsa State and other Nigerians living in the state, we want to assure the Commission of our willingness to work closely with them to fulfill their mandate in the state and realize the Bayelsa State Government’s vision of leveraging ICTs to accelerate the development,” Ekio said.

In addition, the Bayelsa State Commissioner, Communication, Science and Technology commended the NCC for the good work it is doing in accelerating the implementation of the federal government’s digital economy initiatives by being optimistic in the consolidation of the gains of the telecommunications sector. The Commissioner promises that Bayelsa State will also provide the necessary incentives to accelerate the deployment of ICTs in the state.

Responding to his guests, Danbatta, who was represented at the meeting by NCC’s Director of Digital Economy, Dr. Augustine Nwaulune, commended the Bayelsa State Government for seeking collaboration with NCC to boost economic growth through telecommunication services and ensured that NCC is ready and willing to partner with Bayelsa State on telecoms and ICT.
While the Commission stands ready to partner with state governments and other relevant institutions to ensure universal access and universal services, Danbatta said that efforts should be made collaboratively to ensure that the relevant infrastructure needed to the provision of ubiquitous telecommunications services to achieve Bayelsa’s socio-economic objective are prioritized.

Danbatta highlighted the Commission’s recognition of the importance of infrastructure expansion in achieving the federal government’s vision for the digital economy. Citing the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025 as one of the federal government initiatives instituted to support infrastructure expansion, Danbatta said the implementation of the Plan is essentially driven by NCC. He pledged that the NCC will ensure that infrastructure gaps in the telecommunications sector are filled to achieve the government’s vision in the context of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy 2020-30.

Further explaining, Danbatta said that to expedite the deployment of broadband infrastructure in the south-south geopolitical zone where Bayelsa State is located, the NCC has authorized Messrs. Raeaana Limited, as one of seven Licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos), licensed to cascade fiber to deepen the penetration of broadband services to every nook and corner of the country. “InfraCo licensees have been given timelines to work in their respective deployment areas to cascade fiber optic infrastructure in rural communities, spanning all 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) to improve provision of robust telecommunications services in the country,” the EVC said.

Meanwhile, Danbatta urged the Bayelsa State government to review state-imposed right-of-way (right-of-way) fees and other issues that may be hampering faster rollout of infrastructure in the state. . “This will boost the deployment of digital infrastructure in cities and communities in and around Bayelsa State for effective economic diversification. The digital economy relies on broadband and ICT infrastructure and one of the factors hindering access to telecommunications infrastructure is the administration of the right-of-way by states and other state actors” , did he declare.

Danbatta also highlighted the importance of comprehensive training for the youth of Bayelsa State and equipping them with ICT tools to enable them to thrive in a digital economy. “On this point, the NCC will collaborate with Bayelsa to provide training to the youths as long as the state government provides the necessary tools to achieve the objective results of these capacity building initiatives,” he said.

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