The Federal Government has assured Nigerians that it would begin the process of reducing the cost of Internet-enabled mobile phones, so as to enable more Nigerians have access to the internet.
The Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, gave the assurance at the International Forum on Accelerating Nationwide Broadband Access in Nigeria, organised by OpenMedia Group in conjunction with Atlantic Telecoms and Media in Lagos recently.
The minister who said government was passionate about increasing Internet penetration in the country, disclosed that President Goodluck Jonathan is backing the move by the ministry to de-gazette a law by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), which seeks to impose a two per cent tax on mobile devices.
The minister however urged the private sector to come out with plans on how to manufacture low cost devices that will enable more Nigerians have access to the Internet.
The minister assured that she would not advocate for the imposition of taxes on devices while pushing for affordable broadband internet access for Nigerians at same time.
According to her, “What I see as challenges are the surmountable issues of policy and cost in the broadband access for the country, and the four fold broadband plan for the country is achievable, if all stakeholders work together as a team.”
She noted that policy issues were not a challenge to broadband because the industry has a reliable regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission,begat is concerned about the growth of the industry.
Johnson, however, observed that what she sees as challenge is the size of the country and getting governments to implement policies on broadband.
The minister noted that in the case of Lagos state, the ministry has recorded a landmark achievement for Right of Way. She disclosed that all states have agreed to crash the cost of Right of Way.
Describing as huge the task of getting all 36 states governor to key into the broadband plan for the nation, she stated that none of the governors are unaware of the great importance of broadband to the growth of the national economy, noting however, that what most states are concern about is the need to increase their revenue bases.
Speaking on claims by data service providers on the deployment of 4G LTE, she said the claims by Smile Communications Nigeria Limited and others are accurate.
She urged Nigerians not to be sceptical about their promises to deliver true 4G LTE technology services, adding that a worrisome trend in the industry currently is the fact that out of every kobo spent on the rollout of infrastructure by the operators, 70 per cent goes to taxes and levies.
Johnson expressed shock on claims from certain quarters that the ministry has not carried the industry along effectively in the area of broadband deployment, stating that there was a wide consultation before the broadband plan was forwarded to the president for approval.
Posted by Hope for Nigeria