Need to support Pantami, NCC bid to reduce data cost

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami recently explained that his earlier statement that cost of data should come down by 40% in 2025 was based on his recent intervention on the lingering issues of Right of Way (RoW) and vandalization of telecommunications infrastructure across the country.

The Minister made this clarification yesterday while addressing ICT journalists in his office.

With the intervention, he disclosed that the ministry is already working on more complementary policies that would compel telecom service providers to bring the price of data down by at least 40 percent in 2025.

”We are working on our policies and by 2025, probably 40% of the cost of data will be dropped. Most of the challenges that were lingering in the sector for 15 years, we are able to resolve them, like the issue of the Right of Way.

”This has been lingering since 2006 and in less than a year we resolved it, to the extent that some players in the sector described the resolution as a miracle. An example is Kwara state, before the cost of RoW from one LGA to another is N560m, with my modest intervention, the cost is now N150m.

”This is what we mean by providing the enabling environment for investors. According to ALTON Chairman, 70% of money spent by service providers before the intervention went to RoW.

”In governance, our priority is to protect the interest of our citizens. Our mission in the federal government is to ensure that the interest of our citizens are protected because they are the ones suffering more than any other one,”

With this intervention, it is now incumbent on the media and other stakeholders in the industry to prevail on the telecom service providers to see reasons why they should bring down the cost of data since they had blamed the high cost on the issues addressed, insisting that the priority of federal government is to insulate the vulnerable citizens from undue exploitations.

”With this intervention, the cost of broadband should come down. What I think is important is that, when the intervention of this nature takes place, the media are to support the government to challenge the service providers to bring the cost of data down. Since the prices go up due to the challenge of RoW, it should come down now.

”The president has written to us that telecom infrastructure should be protected. These are areas they spend money, however, as it is now, the cost of data in Nigeria is not the highest in Africa but because our minimum income is low compared to the minimum wage of some countries in Africa,” he added.

Speaking on the convergence between the ICT sector and the media, Pantami said it had become more difficult to draw a line of demarcation between the ICT sector and media due to the synergy digital technology has brought.

In order to strengthen the existing bond, he promised that the Ministry would come up with more policies that will promote the ICT and media sectors and few other sectors that are critical to our country for good governance.

”There are many activities going on virtually. Because of the convergence of many sectors, it becomes more difficult to draw a line of demarcation between the ICT sector and media, they are converged today. Drawing a line of demarcation is becoming difficult by the day that is why the only relationship is we provide the digital platform and the media provides content.

”We have the technology and media has the content that is what merged us together. With technology, the content cannot be developed and without the content, the technology is useless. Vise versa. We will further come up with more policies that will promote the sector, few other sectors that are critical to our country for good governance, and many more.

”Our position at the ministry is to execute policies, assign duties to parastatals, and direct them to implement. Parastatals do not have the power to initiate projects. We will come up with provisions for media in our future budgets because we are promoting multi-media journalism, online media, and real-time journalism. That cannot be done without building capacity.”

He, therefore, charged the media to complement the government’s efforts by being objective in their reportage, saying that responsible journalism is a pillar for good governance and key to the survival of the nation.

”Today, there are many tools for research, whether it is watchdog journalism or investigative journalism or marketing journalism. Responsible journalism is a pillar for good governance while irresponsible journalism is a pillar for bad governance. It is because of this we encourage you to be just and fair in whatever you do.

”This is key to the survival of our country. Whatever you do, you must have a standard that must be respected, core values that cannot be compromised in any situation you find yourself. I encourage you to always report things the way they are. I also urge you to improve on your precision and accuracy.”

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