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FG drives N24.2bn Free Internet in key public places

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Two deep pocket contracts worth N24.20bn for the provision of broadband projects expected to drive free internet facilities for markets, tertiary institutions, and 20 airports across the country have been sealed by the Federal Government.
Government said the move is to deepen access to free broadband for SMEs.
This was made known by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Pantami on Wednesday, 29th March, 2023, while he was addressing State House correspondents immediately after the Federal Executive Council meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. President Muhammadu Buhari presided over the meeting.
The minister affirmed that the projects which was approved after the presentation of two memos would be implemented by the Nigerian Communications Commission, a parastatal under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
He said the selected 20 domestic and international airports with an average of three picked from each of the six geo-political zones.
In his words, “In the South West, you have two in Lagos, you have in Ondo. For South East, you have Imo, Anambra, and Enugu. For South-South, you have in Port Harcourt, Akwa Ibom. For North Central, you have Abuja and Ilorin. For North West, you have Kano, Sokoto and Kebbi. For North East, you have in Yola, Maiduguri and Gombe.”
He further disclosed that: “The duration for the project is four months minimum and a maximum of five months and there is a budgetary provision for that. Also, the fund to sponsor the implementation has been secured by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.
“For universities, it is because we have learned bitter and better lessons during the COVID-19, so we don’t want to go back to that, we want to ensure that students and staff benefit from unlimited internet. For airports, we know the difficulty when you land without any connectivity. So it will even at least make our airports more lively if there is at least internet connectivity that is for free.
“Thirdly, for the market, it’s to support innovation-driven enterprises that are being championed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where we try to give global visibility to our innovators, to our micro, small and medium enterprises, so that their market is not going to be narrowed and restricted only to our local communities”, he concluded.
However, analysts are expressing worry on why such a strategic scheme is coming at the tail end of the government and wondered if key ministerial agencies were being carried along in the process by the minister after all.

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