FG renews MOU on affordable internet

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The Minister of Communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, on Tuesday signed the renewal of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), to ensure affordable internet in Nigeria.

Shittu signed the three-year MOU during the A4AI Nigerian Coalition meeting in Lagos.

He said that the Federal Government recognised the urgent need to increase access to and usage of internet and broadband in Nigeria.

According to him, ICT has been given a central role, as part of Government’s overreaching national development plan and Vision 20:2020, which outlined how to make Nigeria a top 20 global economy by 2020.

“In order to rationalise the work towards achieving Vision 20:2020, the Government of Nigeria has developed the new ICT strategic roadmap, which is before the Federal Executive Council for approval.

“It details how Nigeria will leverage ICT to become a knowledge-based, globally competitive society by 2020.

“The development of mobile services in Nigeria has been a direct result of the liberalisation of the Nigerian telecommunications sector, which began in 1993 with the establishment of some Ministry’s parastatals.

“The affordability report of A4AI serves as a wake-up call to us in the Ministry.

“A lot of work needs to be done; immediate collaborative action is required, let us work together to build open and competitive markets that can drive affordability, applicability, availability and accessibility (4As),” he said.

The minister said that A4AI report showed that high cost of broadband might hinder the achievement of UN Global of Universal Internet Access by 2020.

He said that in order to accelerate progress, the ministry was working round the clock to set a more ambitious target for getting broadband prices down.

According to him, the country’s ICT development blueprint and National Broadband plan will be implemented holistically for the next three years, to ensure getting broadband prices down.

“I am also aware this A4AI Coalition has been working round the clock to chart a way forward towards deepening broadband internet access and affordability in the country.

“I consider this meeting as impetus to the realisation of this noble course in our country’s history.

“A stakeholder consultation on the establishment of an Internet industry code of practice has been approved.

“The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) will soon invite all affected and interested stakeholders for consultation as part of our Internet Governance functions.

“The Ministry, through the NCC seeks inputs from stakeholders in the development of a code of practice in support of an open internet.

“Ministry favours a multi-stakeholder model of engagement in the process of policy development for Internet Governance,” he said.

Shittu said that the code of practice sought to establish best practices for Internet Governance in Nigeria in line with emerging issues and global trends.

He said that it also sought to provide transparent rules for the assignment and classification of internet content.

The minister said that President Muhammadu Buhari realised the need to use ICT as bedrock to his change agenda and development.

He called on the alliance to come up with new innovative ideas, tangible and actionable outcome from the meeting, for the Ministry’s consideration.

The National Coordinator, A4AI Nigeria, Dr Ernest Ndukwe, said that the alliance’s mission was to promote affordable internet.

Ndukwe said the broadband connectivity held the key to the socio-economic development of a nation.

According to him, the more connected a nation is, the more advance it will be, hence, the need to make access affordable.

-NAN