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Ministry of Communications mulls ICT Development Bank—Shittu

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The Minister of Communications, Dr Adebayo Shittu on Monday said that the Ministry was pushing for the establishment of an Information Communication Technology (ICT) Development Bank to provide funding for broadband and data infrastructure development.

Shittu disclosed this during a valedictory press conference organised for him in Abuja.

According to the minister, the proposed bank would serve as a special purpose vehicle to propel the growth of ICT sector under Private Public Partnership (PPP).

He added that the bank would support stakeholders and technology start-ups at low interest rates.

While highlighting some achievements of the ministry under his leadership since November 2015, Shittu said that the country had recorded increased deployment of technology through significant investments.

He said “technologies like blockchain, internet of things, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, 3D printing and big data are being adopted by government agencies.

“There are over 50, 000 base transmitter stations and over 150, 000 kilometers fibre broadband infrastructure.

“Five mobile radio frequency monitoring equipment and national spectrum management systems have been launched for effective monitoring of frequency bands.

“The first mobile radio frequency monitory equipment, a national spectrum system, a Denial of Service (DOS) equipment, and a national control centre in Abuja have also been launched.’’

Shittu, however, emphasised the need to expand investments in ICT infrastructure to extend connectivity to unserved and underserved areas.

He also said that the ministry showed great concern for the plight of service providers.

“The national Economic Council has approved a policy to harmonise rights of way charges payable by telecom companies and related public utility infrastructure on local governments, states and federal highways.

“This is a policy to minimise the spaces occupied, the burden on the roads and reduce taxes payable by telecom operators,’’ Shittu said.

He further called for the review of the 2012 National ICT Policy as well as the Nigerian Communications Act crucial in the development of the sector.

Shittu said that total foreign direct investments to the telecommunications and information technology sector stands at 1.73 billion dollars.

He added that while internet penetration rose from 45 per cent in 2015 to 53 per cent in 2018, telephony subscribers increased from 151 million in 2015 to 173 million in 2018.

“Broadband penetration rate as at March 2019 was 33 per cent, while tele-density grew 123 percent in 2018 and mobile penetration rate increased from 83 percent in 2015 to 84 per cent in 2018,’’ Shittu said.

Edited by Julius Toba-Jegede

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