Nigeria: FG approves N16.7b broadband project for 18 higher institutions, as Minister unveils book

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WorldStage Newsonline– The Federal Government of Nigeria has approved N16.7bn for the provision of unlimited broadband infrastructure to 18 selected higher institutions of learning with three universities each from six geo-political zones, as part of plans to deepen broadband penetration across the nation’s institutions.

Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami, disclosed this at the launch of the broadband infrastructure Project and the unveiling of his book titled, “Skills Rather than Degrees”, which was organized by The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), in Abuja.

He said the unlimited broadband infrastructure will be rolled in phase, adding that each university will benefit from broadband infrastructure unlimited of approximately N400 million and it will kick-start with the North Central geo-political zone.

The minister also said the federal government was providing broadband connectivity to 20 markets as a pilot scheme.

He listed the reasons why broadband was being provided to markets include to support micro, small and medium enterprises, which he said contributed half of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product prior to COVID-19 outbreak and constitute 96.7% of entire businesses in the country.

He said, “I presented the programs to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on the 26th October, 2022 and obtained approval for its implementation. This program cost the government N16.7bn. It will provide broadband access to 20 markets and 18 schools across the 16 geopolitical zones of the country”.

The Minister explained that broadband penetration is key to the promotion of education and commercial activities, saying it was in realisation of this that the World Bank reform of 2022 clearly stated that if we will be able to increase broadband penetration globally, to allow 75%, that will automatically catapult the global Gross Domestic Product by a minimum of 2 trillion US dollars.

Earlier, the minister, during his book presentation, with the title: “Skills Rather Than Degrees”, said the book identified the challenges confronting Nigerian tertiary institutions, adding that the book focused on the importance of skills, creative thinking, teamwork, training, and its potential impact in addressing the problems of un-employability, unemployment, and underemployment.

“I am very delighted to unveil my latest book. I am passionate about the importance of skills and have been speaking about this at many events. This book is a research and productive work implementing the paradigm shift that I am advocating’”, he said.

In his remark, Federal Capital Territory Minister, Malam Mohammed Bello, commended Prof. Pantami for the giant strides recorded in the country, particularly the tremendous expansion of the personal identities of Nigerians, digital financial inclusion, and broadband penetration.

Mallam Bello said as part of its efforts to encourage broadband penetration, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) would provide a 90% discount by collecting N14.50k per linear meter for any telecommunication companies that want to deploy broadband services within green areas in the FCT.

Prof. Pantami listed the beneficiary tertiary institutions to include: (South West) the University Of Lagos, College Of Education (Special), Ibadan, as well as Obafemi  Awolowo University, Ile-Ife; (South East) the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Federal University Of Technology, Owerri and Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka,

Others include: (South-South) the University of Calabar, University of Benin, University of Port Harcourt; (North West) Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; Bayero University, Kano; Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina; (North East) Borno University, and ATBU, Bauchi, Gombe University.

Also included are, (North Central), the Federal University of Technology, Minna, the University of Ilorin, and the University of Abuja.