Cable Equiano — Pantami, Danbatta will pledge Policy Initiative for Deepening Connectivity Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy (Pantami) and Prof. Umar Dabatta, Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), have promised to continue to drive policy initiatives that promote investment in infrastructure in the Nigerian telecom industry in order to deepen connectivity to enhance the nation’s growth and development. This was said by both of them at the reception marking the landing in Nigeria of Equiano undersea Cable System at the Open Access Data Centre, Lekki in Lagos. Pantami and Danbatta expressed gratitude to Google LLC, West Indian Ocean Cable Company WIOCC and other investors who brought additional bandwidth into the country in an effort to increase connectivity and grow. While the Minister was represented at the event by NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Adeleke Adewolu, the NCC Bos was represented by the Executive Commissioner, Technical Services at NCC, Ubale Maska. Other senior management staff of the Commission at the event included the NCC’s Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Bako Wakil, and the Controller, NCC’s Ibadan Zonal Office, Yomi Arowosafe. The Minister stated that the Federal Government will continue to support the implementation of digital economy-oriented policies currently in place by the current administration through the Ministry. Pantami also promised an enabling climate that encourages foreign as well as local investment in infrastructure projects such Google and its co-investors. Also commenting, Danbatta said the Commission’s expectations, initiatives, and vision towards increasing broadband penetration, quality of service, advancement of a digital economy, and commitment to improving national security through technological advancement, are on the priority list of its regulatory interventions. Danbatta expressed joy that Equiano joined the list with other submarine cables from Nigeria’s shores such as MainOne cable, SAT3 and MainOne cables, Glo1 cable and ACE cable WACS, Dolphin by Natcom and MTN. The EVC assured stakeholders of Commission’s commitment towards ensuring that the huge bandwidth capacity from these cables at shore in Lagos would be transmitted to different part of the country to drive robust and ubiquitous infrastructure. This is in line with the provisions in the digital economy strategy, which government has implemented in collaboration all stakeholders. The EVC expressed optimism that Google’s investment in the subsea cable, Equiano, will be significant in driving NCC’s ongoing implementation of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020–2025, which aims at increasing broadband penetration to 70 per cent by 2025. “We are hopeful that Equiano, together with earlier undersea cables in the country, will have additional landing points in the hinterlands through collaborative efforts with NCC-licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos). This will help to reduce retail data prices significantly and thereby complementing the Commission’s efforts at ensuring that affordable Internet services are available to boost Commission’s ongoing broadband policy initiatives”. Danbatta emphasized and helped to reinforce the objective links between policies and plans within the telecom ecosystem and national economic strategies. Meanwhile, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who also witnessed the unveiling of the Google submarine cable, underscored its centrality to Nigeria’s ongoing efforts to boost job creation and contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), over the next three years. Chris Wood (CEO of WIOCC) described the landing on the submarine cables as an important investment in Nigeria’s digital economy. Olaudah Equiiano, a Nigerian hero, was the name of the new cable system. Equiano survived enslavement in 18th-century Nigeria and went on to become an anti-slavery activist and writer. Besides, the triumph over challenges, which Equiano’s life symbolised, the landing of the cable in Nigeria is expected to underscore Nigeria’s leadership as a regional hub for connectivity, and thus, set to attract cloud operators, content providers, content distribution networks and their associated ecosystems.

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