Nigeria’s grassroots communities and the country’s underserved population will not be left out of the national broadband plan when it is implemented.
Speaking at a session in Lagos on the critical issue of financial inclusion, which is expected to be facilitated by a robust infrastructure deployment for broadband availability, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, said the Commission is aware of the country’s infrastructure gaps and is therefore committed to driving the national digital economy to the grassroots.
“As a Commission, we have a mandate to ensure the availability of universal access to telecom services regardless of the circumstances and location of Nigerians and other users in Nigeria,” Bruce-Bennet said, adding that voice communications has over 100% penetration.
The NCC’s EVC, speaking through Freda Bruce-Bennet of the Digital Economy Department, reiterated the Commission’s commitment to advancing financial inclusion through the provision of robust infrastructure such as broadband.
Bruce-Bennet stated at an event hosted by Oriental News Nigeria, an online news organization, at the Sheraton Hotels in Ikeja, Lagos, on “Engaging with Critical Grassroots Groups to Develop Effective Financial Inclusion Initiatives,” that the Commission has been at the forefront of driving technology platforms required to drive increased access to financial services by all and sundry.
She cited the Commission’s current implementation of an open-access model (Infraco licensing) for broadband infrastructure deployment in the six geopolitical zones, as well as Lagos (which has a special status within the telecom ecosystem), as one of the strategies adopted to ensure robust infrastructure deployments that will support many platforms that can accelerate financial inclusion.
According to Bruce-Bennet, the Commission has facilitated strategic partnerships with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Fintech Association of Nigeria (FintechNGR), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the Rockefeller Partnership Agreement (RPA), and other government agencies to promote Digital Financial Services (DFS) and Digital Financial Inclusion (DFI) in Nigeria.
Bruce-Bennet also stated that the NCC, through its Digital Economy Department, is promoting the development of a portal for the Association of Skilled Vocational Artisans of Nigeria (ASVAN) for information and digital training purposes.
At the event, the Chairman, Bank Customers Association of Nigeria, Dr. Uju Ogubunka, applauded the Commission for its regulatory efforts in creating an enabling environment for digitized financial inclusion and charged the participants and other government agencies present to take advantage of the information portal of the Commission to glean necessary information because the robust digital economy will, amongst other things, improve the standard of living of the people who are willing to harvest the benefits.