Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Pantami has said that with the entrance of a US based Internet Service Provider(ISP) company, Starlink, Nigeria will achieve more than 95% internet penetration by the end of 2023.
Pantami said this when the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, visited him in Abuja, Tuesday on advancement of the nation’s digital economy.
Nigerian NewsDirect Newsapaper Correspondent present during the courtesy visit reports that the duo discussed key partnership expected to fast-track inflow of foreign investor into Nigeria.
Pantami speaking on the news of Starlink entrance into the Nigeria market, he disclosed that it portend great economic gains for the Country.
He stressed that Federal Government will continue to encourage competition within the internet ecosystem.
“Firstly, as a government, we must encourage competition. And that one is key to our economic development. We must encourage competition. And that is what we always do. However, we care about our national interest and about our talent development.
“Competition is important. Number one is that it is important towards economic development. Number two is that it is important towards reducing the price of internet because without competition, you will discover one or two people that dominate the market and nobody will challenge them”, he explained.
He added that, “Most probably by the end of next year, we could have more than 95% broadband penetration in Nigeria. And this is excellent by all standards.
Earlier in her remarks, Ambassador Mary noted that the US is keen on improving the growth of Nigeria’s economy.
She disclosed that the US is committed to investing heavily in the Nation’s economy.
Mary Leonard reiterated US mission’s commitment to engaging young Nigeria in Science, Information Technology sector.
She added that the meeting is also necessitated on the need to get the country’s support for US candidature in the forthcoming International Telecommunications Union(ITU).
“So I would say that we had two major issues of discussion. Of course, it always a pleasure to come and talk about the digital sector, broadly, because it an area where there is so much interest and involvement by American companies, Amazon, Microsoft, Google. I mean, they are, a very dynamic part of us in society.
And they’re very interested in Nigerian market. So we’re always eager to catch up on the latest projects and proposals.
“And then the other is because in September of this year, there is a very important election and the Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union, and there is a immensely well qualified American candidate. And so of course, you would know that I support the American candidate very struggling and we we want to get Nigeria as well to support this bid.
“Well, the partnership that that evolves from from the arrival and involvement of American digital companies is a really big part of that asked is efforts by our US mission here to engage young people in STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education programmes on how girls can cope. So on the demand side, if you will know, we are very involved in helping Nigerian youths to find their way to that sector.
“And then on the business side, we have gotten American business coming in and also contributing to that effort and being involved in some very exciting projects”, she stated.
In his response, Prof Pantami said a continued favourable relationship between and the US is prerequisite to the development of Nigeria’s economy.
According to him, “We have so many things in common between Nigeria and the US. Ambassador Mary is always welcome here.
“The issue she presented about the Candidature of Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union, being a stakeholder in the sector, I know the capacity of the US Candidate. She cares so much about the development of ICT in Africa, being among the countries that are relatively left behind, however, we are making tremendous success now. So she has a blueprint on how to support Africa, on the leadership”.
“I also urge US to support Nigeria’s bid to retain her membership seat at ITU Council, and Radio Regulations Board”, he said.