Nigerians Want Bread and Broadband!

The just concluded Broadband for Nigeria Stakeholders Forum was indeed a meeting that delivered on its objectives. It was held on Wednesday July 28, 2010 at the NCCE Hall, Central Business District, Abuja. Association for Progressive Communications (APC) provided the support funding while Fantsuam Foundation, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, ATCON; Nigeria ICT Forum of Partnership Institutions and Telecom Answers Associates supplied the faculty which put the forum together.

After kicking off with exchange of pleasantries and a welcome address, the first Nigerian Broadband Stakeholders Forum got down to serious business with the presentation of a Broadband framework supported with a background document.

Engr. Titi Omo Ettu, President, Association of Telecommunication Companies in Nigeria, took the audience through these documents, spicing his presentation with examples and inside information which only long-time IT practitioners were privy to. Thereafter, delegates were invited to make their input. The BB4NG team had made efforts before the event to ensure a wide dissemination of the two key documents, through print and internet, and this seemed to have paid off as attested to by the quality and passion of contributions made by participants at the Forum.

The discussion and observation that followed the document presentation was rich and diverse, and it was one of such observations that seemed to have captured the essence of what the Nigerian Government needed to do, and do quickly. It was observed that Nigerians are at various levels in awareness of and demand for Broadband internet access, and the consensus is that this should not be a question of choosing either Bread or Broadband. Nigerians need both Bread and Broadband!

It was observed that beyond ensuring that the Broadband for Nigeria framework document, synergizes with ongoing and previous efforts of Government, it must be made explicit and clear to Government that BROADBAND IS THE MEDIUM THAT IS NEEDED TO ENSURE A SUCCESSFUL, SUSTAINABLE, AND INCLUSIVE ACHIEVEMENT OF OUR MGD COMMITMENTS AND VISION 2020-20.

This message came through this stakeholders forum loudly and clearly and it presents the Nigerian Government an opportunity to make Nigeria’s MDG commitments and Vision 2020-20, not a pyrrhic victory but a lasting reality. The message is that: broadband is the critical and efficient medium needed for the timely delivery of MDGs, Vision 2020-20 and ICT4D. In order to ensure that Nigeria’s MDG commitments and Vision 202020 reach their target audience in ALL the 774 Local Governments, it will require a substantial completion of fixed Broadband infrastructure that gives optimum connectivity within the country and to the global internet.

The First Nigerian Broadband Stakeholders Forum has delivered on its objectives and it has presented us the opportunity to make Nigeria’s MDG commitments and Vision 2020-20 a reality. The next crucial steps is to ensure that this message reaches all the people who will be responsible in developing the policy that will make this a reality.

The Forum, under the chairmanship of Mr. Olusola Teniola, Chief Operating Officer of Phase 3 Telecom, brought together a wide range of stakeholders. Senior Civil servants such as Dr. Moses Olateju Ojo Director, NCCE; Mr Obi Adindu, Senior Special Assistant to the Minister of Communication made contributions.

Chairman of NITDA, Hon Mohammed Bulama gave an inspiring speech while Secretary General of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Prof Jibril Dahiru Amin pledged the full support of Nigerian Universities for this effort and this was echoed by representatives from several research and educational institutions.

The IT industry had Dr Armstrong Takang, and other Senior Executives from IEEE, Monarch Communications Ltd, Linkserve, and President of the Information Technology Association of Nigeria, Dr Olufuye, were key contributors at the Forum.

Mr. Adrian Wood the pioneer MD of MTN, now CEO of BryMEDIA Consortium was there while President of Nigeria Computer Society, Prof. Charles Uwadia sent goodwill message and endorsement to the Forum. The presence of grassroot politicians, such as Councilor Ibrahim La’ah from Kaura Local Government of Kaduna State, showed the extent to which information about this event had been circulated. The Nigerian Military through Navy Commodore James Oluwole and Air Commodore Pat Udabor and other very senior Military officers also expressed full endorsement of the framework document. Civil society organisations such as Life Impact Foundation Intl., One World UK, Abuja Photographers Association, Center for Information technology & Development, Telecommunications Consumers Association of Nigeria, Development Information Network and national youth Corps members were also present.

Six additional items/ isssues were accepted to be addressed in the Framework Document.

Delegates represented the following organisations: Abuja Photographers Association; Adamawa State University; African Science & Tech Digest; Ahmadu Bello University; All Voices; Analytical Technology Ltd; ATCON; Bayero University Kano; Brymedia Group Ltd.; Businessday; Center for Information technology & Development; Committee of Vice Chancellors; Compass Nigeria; Consultancy Support Services-CS2; Daily Independent; Data ZA Ltd; Datasphir; DCOMMS-Defense Hqtrs.; Development Information Network; Fantsuam Foundation; Far Eye Marketing & Communications Ltd; FCE Kano; FCT Secondary Education Board; FCTA; Fed. Ministry I & C; Federal University of Tech. Akure; Financial Standard; Galaxy Backbone Plc.; Globacom Ltd.; Goga Investment Nig. Ltd.; Grassroot Systems Ltd.; Hafasco Communications Ltd.; Huawei Technologies Company Nigeria Ltd.; IEEE Nigeria; ITAN; Kasuf Continental Ltd.; Kaura LG. Kaduna; KJ Technologies Ltd.; Kolmart Nig. Ltd; Layer 3; Life Impact Foundation Intl.; Lifeboom Century; Linkserve Ltd.; Media Trust; Megadi Security Service; Muhtasib Resources Ltd. Sokoto; National Planning Commission; National Teachers Institute; National Youth Service Corps; NBTE; NCCE; News Agency of Nigeria; ng ICT Forum; Nigerian Airforce; Nigerian Navy; Nigerian Tribune; NITDA; NITEL; One World UK; ONSA; Phase 3 Telecomm Ltd; Rural Electrification Agency; Sapphire Consult; Self Employed; Special Advisor ICT, Sokoto State; Step B; Swap Technologies & Telecoms Plc; Technology Support Centre Nigeria; Telecom Answers Associates; Telecommunications Consumers Association of Nigeria; Tinitop Technologies Ltd.; Unetcom Technologies Ltd.; University of Agriculture, Makurdi; University of Ibadan; University of Mkar; Vanguard; Wise Point Technology; and Yentech Services.

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