• Tuesday, March 05, 2024
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FG’s N24.2bn free internet for varsities seen boosting academic productivity

The federal government proposed N24.20 billion for the provision of broadband for free internet services in tertiary institutions and airports across the country will help boost academic productivity, experts say.

Stanley Alaubi, a senior lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, said it is long overdue and a welcome development.

“I hope they keep to their promise and sustain this tempo and not nib it in the bud,” he said, noting that it will add value to academic productivity.

Also, Akintunde Opawole, product manager at Sidmach Technologies Limited, described the proposed free broadband internet services as a development that will enhance the educational experience for students, faculty, and staff in tertiary institutions.

“This can help to facilitate the learning process by providing access to online resources, research materials, and educational platforms that require high-speed internet connectivity.

“It can also help to promote innovation, creativity, and collaboration among students and faculty members,” he said.

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Besides, the free broadband internet services can improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of administrative and operational processes in tertiary institutions, he said.

“This can help to streamline operations, reduce costs, and improve communication and information sharing among various departments and stakeholders,” he said.

Opawole also said that the free broadband internet services to tertiary institutions is a positive development that can help promote education, innovation, and economic growth in the country.

Friday Erhabor, director of media and strategy at Marklenez Limited, similarly applauded the venture.

“It is a welcome development and long overdue. I think it is quite commendable. Students do not have to spend much money on data to carry out their research. They can also have access to e-libraries,” he said.

Adebayo Olatunde, a student of the University of Lagos, Akoka, said it is a great idea that will help students immensely with their academic pursuits.

“I think it’s a great intervention because students use a lot of data for research and daily communication on campus. This would help students who spend a lot of data monthly, so they can channel that fund to other things,” he said.

However, Ebuka Nnaji, a former student at the University of Port Harcourt believes that the move is a misplaced priority.

“I think it is a misplaced priority. We are not practicing a socialist system of government. All those institutions already made provisions for them in their budgets, which will lead to duplication of services,” he noted.

The federal government recently announced the approval of two contracts worth N24.20 billion for the provision of broadband for free internet services in 75 public places including 20 airports, tertiary institutions, and markets across the country.

Isa Ali Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy, while disclosing the proposed free internet plan recently, said it would cover airports, public universities, and markets spread across the 36 states of the federation and Abuja.

The minister said his ministry presented two related memoranda to FEC for approval which focused on providing free internet connectivity services, adding that the second one was complementary to a similar approval by the council last year.

“Both memos, you will discover that they will provide broadband to these institutions at the price of approximately N24.20 billion and the project is going to be implemented by the Nigerian Communications Commission.

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,” he said.

In addition, he said; “For universities, it’s 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 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.”