The Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, has advocated for collaboration between policy makers, technology stakeholders and civil society groups to make Internet access affordable to majority of Nigerians.
Johnson, made the disclosure at the Alliance For Affordable Internet (A4AI) Nigeria Multi-Stakeholder Forum in Abuja.
She said: “The onus is on us in the public sector to develop and roll out policies and regulations that will ensure improvement, while the private sector are called upon to deploy innovative and cutting edge solutions as well as develop content in local languages to improve demand.
“Civil society and academia will be depended upon to provide data as well as needed research that will measure development and impact.”
She however admitted that the affordability target that constantly needs to be improved upon, adding that the multi stakeholder approach by A4AI remains a good platform.
She stated that the priorities of the ministry is couched in the easy-to-remember phrases like ‘Connect Nigeria’, ‘Connect Nigerians’, ‘develop local content’, and ‘ICT in Government’, adding that the ministry’s first priority which is ‘Connect Nigeria’ is focussed on deploying ubiquitous and cost effective ICT infrastructure in the country.
Cost effectiveness, she said, has been quantified by the United Nations (UN) Broadband Commissionâ€™s target of entry level broadband services to be priced at less than 5 per cent of average monthly income.
The Minister added: “According to the A4AI Affordability Index report, â€œ84 percent of Nigerians live on less than 2 dollars per day and the World Bank that 63 percent live on less than $1.25. “A prepaid mobile broadband user subsisting on $2 per day who wanted to use 1GB of data per month would have to spend 22 percent of their monthly income to do so.â€
This she said, is a far cry from the UN Broadband commission target, adding that Nigerians will either have to increase their average monthly income or drastically reduce the average cost of access for Nigerians to meet this target.
According to her, the ministry share a number of common goals with the A4AI, like that of advancing affordable access to both mobile and fixed-line internet in developing countries.
“Central to our Connect Nigeria initiative, our national broadband plan was approved in May 2013 and is now being implemented with oversight from a Broadband Council that comprises major stakeholders in the industry. Elements of this plan have been rolled out with the significant step of provisional allocation of a 30MHZ slot in the 2.3GHz range for Wholesale Wireless Access after a successful auction process.
“The Open Access Model that will be applied for the Next Generation Optic Fibre Network (â€œInfraco modelâ€) is at the very final stage of licensing the companies. Other initiatives that directly address our affordability issues include: Harmonization of regulations across various federal government agencies (NESREA, NCC, FMITI weights and measures unit).