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FG calls on states to sign smart-state initiative MoU

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Ministry of Communication Technology, in implementing the National Broadband Plan at all tiers of government, has urged states in the country to sign up to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the ministry for the implementation of the Smart State initiative already pioneered in three states – Lagos, Cross River and FCT; and being tested in Anambra, Bayelsa, Ondo with others to follow.

This was part of the summation of a communiqué issued at the end of the third meeting of the National Council on Communication Technology (NCCT) held in Yenogoa, Bayelsa State, from September 11–16, 2014, under the chairmanship of Omobola Johnson, minister of communication technology.

The Ministry of Communication Technology and the Broadband Council chaired by Johnson is promoting a ‘Smart State’ initiative geared at engaging governors and relevant authorities at the state and federal levels to address the issue of multiple taxation, impeding the acceleration of the roll out of critical infrastructure across Nigeria.

The main aim of the Smart State initiative is to ensure that measures are adopted to remove arbitrary charges and eradicate multiple taxation across the nation, impeding the roll out of critical Information Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure across Nigeria.

The communiqué also urged NIPOST to use its post offices to deploy ICT services all across the country and leverage on existing Public Access Venues (PAV) infrastructure around the country to deploy its services.

In her keynote address at the NCCT meeting, Johnson commended Bayelsa State for signing the Smart State MoU, indicating that the ministry was currently collaborating with Bayelsa State in a number of areas and congratulated the governor for pursuing a Digital Transformation Agenda in his state. Johnson highlighted the top priority areas of the Ministry to include Connect Nigeria-which focuses on building ICT infrastructure, Connect Nigerians, ICT in government and Local Content. She disclosed that the Ministry of Communication Technology has made progress in its priority areas resulting in improvements in a number of indicators including teledensity, active subscription, number of internet users, and internet penetration. She also noted that steady progress was being made in software industry development and ICT in government. She assured that the Ministry of Communication Technology would provide the necessary leadership and rallying point for ensuring that the potential of the Nigerian ICT sector is fully harvested for the attainment of inclusive and sustainable development.

The Council deliberated exhaustively on the 73-page report presented by the meeting of officials and other items of the Agenda and agreed on major decisions and recommendations highlighted in the communiqué. The NCCT urged States and Local governments in the country to make policy changes in the areas of investing in infrastructure security and development, active collaboration in negotiating Federal, State and local government jurisdiction issues as it affects ICT, establishing or strengthening where they exist Ministries, agencies or authorities to build capability to coordinate ICT that will pay due attention to ICT investment and funding as well as coordinated ICT development.

The communiqué also urged members to sensitise their chief executives and mobilise support for implementation of the National Addressing policy to be piloted in the six geopolitical zones with Ekiti, Nasarawa, Benue, Bayelsa, Osun, Plateau, Gombe and Anambra states as volunteers. All states in the country were also urged to participate actively in the effort to finalise the national e-government framework.

Ben Uzor