Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau state has revealed reasons for the focus on ICT by his administration.
Speaking at a recent zoom conference for ‘Effective Right of Way Administration in Nigeria,’ Lalong said he sees good governance and economic development in how effectively ICT is deployed.
Automating processes to improve lives
His words: “Information and Communication Technology[ICT] has become a major priority of my administration since assuming office because of the need for the automation of our processes to be able to serve our citizens better and to promote efficiency and transparency in governance.
“Some of the areas where we have continued to deploy ICT include our procurement processes, revenue collection, budgeting, security, financial management, land administration, communication and public engagement. We are automating our services to enhance efficiency and cost effectiveness.
“Today, we are making a lot of effort towards improving digital access in terms of education, job creation and entrepreneurship. Our government recognizes that ICT is now an economy of its own often referred to as the “digital economy”.
Lalong remarked at the event that his core objective is to leverage technology to improve quality of government’s services and obligations to the citizens.
“Our goal is that before we leave office, we would like to have most, if not all our governance processes driven by information and communication technologies,” said Lalong at the telecoms stakeholders forum where Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, presented a keynote titled: ‘Right of Way Reforms: Unlocking Nigeria’s Inclusive Digital Economy.’
The event, the first Nigeria Technical Conference on the Right of Way, was organised by United Kingdom (UK) Prosperity Fund’s Digital Access Programme and Greenfields Law in collaboration with Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy.
The meeting sought to “identify pragmatic policy and legal and regulatory right of way and site build approval processes for adoption by all governments in Nigeria,” said Osondu C. Nwokoro, Managing Counsel of Greenfields Law, appointed as consultants to the UK Government’s Prosperity Fund‘s Digital Access Programme.
Ending the RoW nightmare
Right of Way (RoW) administration has for over a decade remained a major bottleneck to infrastructure rollout n Nigeria with many states refusing to grant RoW or doing so at extremely exorbitant rates.
The federal government has been able to compel states to either reduce RoW charges or completely eliminate such charges.
At the forum, Pantami, told the audience that after receiving briefing from the telecoms regulator and stakeholders in the industry, he discovered that “the Right of Way levy was one of the major obstacles to enhancing broadband penetration in Nigeria,” explaining that this informed his decision to engage with the Nigeria Governors Forum in order to address the Right of Way imbroglio that had lingered for over a decade.
Lalong revealed this much.
“It is based on this fact that I had no hesitation in approving that Plateau State heeds the appeal by the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy for lowering the Right of Way rates.
“We believe that this will not only make us achieve our digital transformation goal, but also help us key into the digital economy by increasing internet broadband penetration within Plateau State,” said the governor who is also the Chairman, Northern Governors Forum.
He added: “The effect that this will have is increase in Job opportunities, improved digital access across every part of the State including the digitally-starved rural communities.
“We envisage that there will also be a cheaper data regime which will impact our people positively and increase innovation among our youths especially in the rural areas.
“While looking at the enormous opportunities that high internet penetration would bring, it is also important to mention that my government is investing in digital skills training under the flagship called “Code Plateau”.