The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, has urged Nigerians not to use the proposed Fifth Generation (5G) Technology against the unity of the nation.
Pantami made the appeal at the virtual, 10th edition of the Nigeria Internet Governance Forum (NIGF 2021), organised by Nigeria Internet Governance Forum Multistakeholder Advisory Group (NIGF-MAG), led by Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in Abuja.
The theme of the forum was: “Internet That Works For All”, with sub-themes in the areas like accessibility, infrastructure, policy and regulation, and capacity building and development.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the yearly forum affords stakeholders the opportunity to participate and make contributions to the development and governance of the internet in Nigeria.
The Minister said that 5G would go a long way in impacting positively in the areas of education, health, security management, governance and other productive ventures, rather than for the disunity of the country.
He, however, noted that in rural communities globally, only 10 per cent of the populations have access to fixed broadband infrastructure.
He added that there is a lot to be done in terms of broadband penetration, especially in those rural areas.
According to the minister, spectrum is available for 5G deployment and will be released by the council to NCC that will, in turn, administer it in Nigeria while ensuring that it reached all the operators.
“We will then be able to have 5G in our country. This will increase broadband penetration and also the speed because 5G is at least 20 times faster than 4G when it is available.
“We must ensure that 5G deployed is not used against the nation and its unity. Let us use it for the good of our country and benefit of all.
“We are working to ensure that broadband infrastructure is accessible and affordable in the rural communities. It is for this reason that most of our policies are arranged to address the challenges that make internet expensive,” he said.
The Minister explained that the use of internet was not a luxury anymore as it was a prerequisite to economic development of the country.
He said that the forum was a strategic avenue where both private and public sectors were interwoven to ensure the goal was achieved for all.
He added that most activities on the social media would have shut down, without the use of internet.
“Internet is no longer a luxury; it has become a prerequisite to economic development.
“It is a prerequisite to securing a nation; it also becomes a prerequisite to governance activities. It is a forum that brings public sector on one hand and private sector on the other.
“It is because of this that internet is beyond being a luxury or for socialisation but rather an important ingredient for economic development.
“Today without internet most of our social activities will be shut down. Our education institutions need internet to leverage on, and we also need internet to secure our nation, deliver healthcare and other services,” he said.
Pantami said that it had become very important to discuss about internet that works for all.
“Some of us in the urban areas can access internet and afford to buy it, but some of our citizens in the rural areas do not have such access.
“Some have access but cannot afford to buy it,” he said.
In his remarks, the Executive Vice-Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said that the internet remains one of the most important resources the world over.
Danbatta added that the internet was an essential part of the people’s daily activities since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Internet is governed using a collaborative model of multi-stakeholder approach, thus, everyone who has a stake in the use and future of the internet needs to participate in its governance.
“Internet governance includes more than just the administration and distribution of internet resources, it also involves fundamental questions of social, cultural and economic participation in a digital society,” he said.
Danbatta said that the outcome of the NIGF 2021 is expected to build consensus among stakeholders on actionable recommendations for both state and non-state actors in the internet ecosystem.
“It will focus on engaging multi-stakeholder nature of the Forum to harness and aggregate productive ideas towards brainstorming on the national Digital Economy policies by the Nigerian government,” he said.
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