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We must democratize access to the internet

REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE FLAG-OFF OF THE OGUN STATE DIGITAL ECONOMY EMPOWERMENT PROJECT ON THE 15TH OF APRIL, 2021

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Today is one of my proudest days as a citizen of Ogun State because today, Ogun State has taken the leadership in digital technology in Nigeria by this first-of-its-kind massive investment in the digital infrastructure in our great State. We are not just talking about the future, its challenges, and opportunities, we are, by the launching of the Ogun State Digital Economy Empowerment Project, taking hold of the future and we are set to define it in our own terms.

Digital Technology is the future of all aspects of human existence. Business, education, healthcare, governance, security, and the practice of every profession, are either already digitally based or will become so in the coming months and years. Someone said digital technology is to development today, what electricity was to development in the 19th and 20th century. Making it available to all our citizens and businesses is the most farsighted action any government can take today.

Indeed, access to broadband and other technology tools has become compulsory for any community that seeks meaningful growth, prosperity, and security for its people.

I would like to commend our futuristic, dynamic, innovative, and digitally compliant Governor, His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun for this incredibly relevant initiative. By bringing last-mile broadband access to homes, businesses, and offices in Ogun State, you are opening up Ogun State residents and businesses digitally, not just across Nigeria, but to the entire universe.

Your Excellency, this project is a critical component of Mr. President’s objective of broadband connectivity for all by 2023. This ambition is now enshrined in our Economic Sustainability Plan. As part of the national commitment to make broadband connectivity available to all, you would recall that in 2017, the State Governors under the auspices of the National Economic Council (NEC), agreed to harmonize right of way charges payable by telecommunications companies and related public utility infrastructure on Local Governments, States and Federal Highways, to encourage co-location of the companies’ fiber optic cables.

In another demonstration of Government’s commitment in this regard, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy launched the National Broadband Plan which is designed to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria of a minimum 25Mbps in urban areas and 10Mbps in rural areas, with effective coverage available to at least 90% of the population by 2025 at affordable prices.

The plan gives special attention to unserved and underserved areas in the distribution of telecom services. Many States have already complied with the right of way policy and have reduced the rates to as low as N140 per meter, while some States have completely removed the charges.

We must press on in our quest to democratize access to the internet. We are pursuing this cause because we recognize that internet access and broadband penetration will become existential in a few short years and will determine our competitiveness in the global economy.

Through judicious investments in the right infrastructure, Ogun State has positioned itself to become a major global site of the emergent innovation economy. I believe that bridging the digital divide in the State will also lead to improved education outcomes and provide opportunities for improved access to education across the State and at different levels starting from primary to tertiary education.

The digital revolution that this project will bring will be a game-changer in every aspect of the socio-economic life of this State. Nigeria is blessed with some of the brightest and best minds in the global innovation economy and improving access to broadband provides an opportunity for them to take on their peers from across the world on a more level playing field.

Once again, I congratulate the Ogun State Government, the Governor, and their worthy private sector collaborator, the 21st Century Technologies on this launch.

Your Excellencies, honoured guests, it is now my special pleasure and privilege to formally launch the Digital Economy Empowerment Project for the benefit of the great people, businesses, and institutions of Ogun State and the Nigerian people, and to the glory of the Almighty God.

Thank you and God bless Ogun State.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Released by:
Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President

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