Anambra Becomes SMART State, Partners Federal Government On Special ICT Programme

By Willie Is Working

Anambra State has been selected by the Broadband Council of Nigeria as one of the five states, technically referred to as the SMART States and specially designated for the accelerated roll-out of ICT infrastructure programme that will set the country up for technological revolution in the country. Other states include Bayelsa, Gombe, Katsina and Ondo states.

This was the basis of a preliminary partnership agreement signed yesterday between the Anambra State government and the Ministry of Communications Technology in Awka during a working visit on the governor of the state by the Hon. Minister of Communication Technology, Dr. Mrs. Omobola Johnson.

According to the terms of reference of the agreement, Anambra State will be working in close partnership with the Federal Government to create an enabling environment that would facilitate the roll-out of ICT infrastructure across the state.

Speaking on the development, the governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano said that ICT is critical in achieving the vision of making Anambra State the first choice investment destination and hub for industrialization and commercial activities.

According to him, the effective implementation of his Four Pillars of Development for Ndi Anambra which includes Agriculture, Trade and Commerce, Industrialization and Oil and Gas depends largely on how fast the stae is in adapting the dynamic changes in the ICT world.

Emphasizing the importance of ICT to his administration's plans to introduce e-commerce to the large business community in the state, Chief Obiano assured that he would soon send a bill to the State House of Assembly to provide the legal framework for the introduction of e-commerce to enable businessmen and women of the state to keep pace with their peers across the world.

The governor further assured that Anambra State would soon become a reference point amongst the selected states for the ICT programme, emphasizing that the state has commenced the process in various sectors including installation of internet services in schools, and the use of drones in security operations and the erosion control.

Earlier in her opening remarks, the Minister of Communications Technology Dr. Mrs Omobola Johnson had observed that the collaboration between Federal Government and the states and the telecommunications companies would lead to the deployment of communications infrastructure that would bring down the cost of networks deployment and an increase in the rollout of ICT services to commercial centers and the undeserved and rural areas by telecommunication operators.

According to her, Anambra was selected for the programme because it has demonstrated commitment in the promotion of ICT in its programmes. Dr. Mrs Johnson also explained that the rollout would increase broadband penetration and access to such services at affordable prices for customers and digitally enable urban areas to stimulate growth in economic activities, productivity and overall development of the state.

Dr. Mrs Johnson further expressed optimism that the initiative would cover standardized fees for site building and approvals with the state, reduction in fees and possibility of waiver for Rights-of-Way in deserving instances, implementation of Dig-once-Policy, promotion of colocation between operators and connectivity to institutions within a kilometer of the Right-of-Way.

Also speaking, former Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and member of the Minister's Advisory Committee, Engr Ernest Ndukwe commended the zeal and commitment displayed by Governor Obiano on the programme. He noted that the Minister aims at moving ICT revolution forward and that the selected states would be transformed to centers of excellence in ICT.

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