Nigeria needs policies to support telcos for e-Government – Okuneye

Olusegun Okuneye, Divisional Chief Executive Officer, ipNX Nigeria Limited, in this interview with EHIME ALEX at the Nigeria e-Government Summit 2021 in Lagos themed e-Government Adoption in Nigeria: Opportunities and Challenges’, speaks on the challenges before telecommunications companies in driving e-Governance in the country


Do you think the eGovernment summit organised by Huawei is a welcome initiative?

Certainly, it is a welcome initiative. It is something that is actually encouraging, year-on-year, because we see in the summit the importance and value that e-Government brings into the economy of a nation.


What has your organisation put in place for the smooth running of eGovernance?

My organisation, ipNX, is the connectivity player. We have the responsibility of getting resources to end-users. We are the fore-end of delivering value when it comes to connectivity to end-users. Our responsibility is to make sure that end-users have access to broadband from the Internet services and have seamless and reliable means and access to resources. Connectivity is not just about broadband; it is about accessing resources. I mentioned external gateways earlier today. This does not necessarily mean you are into the Internet, but you are accessing resources within a defined community. We are a sub-sector that focuses on the real connectivity values to end-users, making sure they are having seamless access to data resources.


Nigeria has its peculiarity. What challenges do you think the country will encounter in driving eGovernance?

Majorly, it is infrastructure. We have a deficit of infrastructure in the country. We have a deficit of infrastructure connecting city to cities. Broadband coming into the country has done the first part of the requirement – getting capacity to the seashores of the country. But, how do we get this out to the end-users? Mercury infrastructure will be required. What I also call last-man infrastructure is required. That is where we have a challenge. We have a challenge in minimal investment, because there are some incentives that can be in place to encourage investors to deploy infrastructure, rather than deficit.

The other part of it is that even the little investment made has been damaged, either willfully or caused by construction. In fact, there is need to protect the existing infrastructure. But, more importantly, there is need to expand the current level of infrastructure that we have in the country to help support seamless connectivity.


How laudable do you think the eGovernment initiative is?

It is an initiative that is achievable. There has been growth in the trend. For example, if you look at the current broadband plan, we were meant to achieve, as a nation, seven per cent penetration. We have granted the move up to about 45 per cent now. This is really achievable. But, one thing that is very crucial now is another objective of the plan, which is achieving coverage of 90 per cent. That is where investment in infrastructure is very key. The current support of the Federal Government in supporting telcos in pushing down prices of Right of Way, harmonisation of RoW, I would say we are in the right direction. If that can be enforced, if we can get the buying of all these players to make sure the RoW is harmonised to the barest minimum, then we can achieve those objectives that have been set within the broadband penetration plan for the country.


Outside infrastructure, what other things do you think will make eGovernance sustainable in the long run?

The most important thing is about continuity of support. The other part of it is running a government of inclusiveness. This is very crucial. Government needs to continue to monitor telcos and create policies that support them to continue to invest and maintain the investment. Economic policies such as wavers on duties, taxes to drive investments and more incentives, when it comes to interest rates, should be encouraged. These are all the things, as well as avoiding multiple taxation and (harsh) Customs duties. Once all those things are done, they can begin to talk about sustainability.

Then, the government can also play its own role. If road constructions are being done, you can create decks for telcos that they load their cables in. So, in terms of all these things, once we look at it altogether and we keep the end thing in mind, which is making sure that the end-users enjoy these values and government continues to support telecoms infrastructure owners, then we can begin to talk about sustainability of e-Governance in the country. 

Ehime Alex
Ehime Alex
Ehime Alex reports the Capital Market, Energy, and ICT. He is a skilled webmaster and digital media enthusiast.

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