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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

JACITAD to Jonathan: Make broadband democracy dividend

A non-governmental organisation, the Joint Action for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Awareness and Development (JACITAD), has asked President Goodluck Jonathan to turn the availability of broadband initiatives in the country into democracy dividends for Nigerians.

The group made this call in its 2011 agenda for the ICT sector in the country.

Speaking through its president, Prince Ogbonnia Osuagwu, they called on President Jonathan to use the accessibility of broadband with the commercial launch of MainOne Cable and Glo-1 since last year.

To achieve this, Prince Osuagwu in the company of the Secretary-General of JACITAD, Mr. Oluwaseun Ayotokun informed ITRealms Online that the government led by President Jonathan, should as matter of urgency consider broadband as digital right of the citizens.

This call, JACITAD said is in line with the recent recommendations of the global telecom body of the United Nations, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

“We all know today that broadband has become the life wire of any economy,” Osuagwu said.

The group pointed out that in any society where broadband is scarce or the cost is high as it is in Nigeria, “no matter other natural resources that may be available in that society they may still be groping in the dark.”

Apart from other rich natural and human resources available to Nigeria, JACITAD noted that two monolithic initiatives berthed at the shores of Nigeria in the preceding year of 2010, but there is nothing to suggest that the government of the day has plans to drive this plan to the populace.

“We feel that all it takes is for the government of the day to cash-in on that to transform the economy,” the group said, advising President Goodluck Jonathan to emulate the United States President, Mr. Barrack Obama, who has since launched a dedicated fund for broadband penetration drive to the rural areas of the country.

“We wouldn’t mind if he would take it as his efforts of delivering democracy dividends,” JACITAD said.

ITRealms Online recalls that last May, at the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2010 in Geneva, ITU and United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) proclaimed the establishment of a top level Broadband Commission for Digital Development (BCDD), which will define strategies for accelerating broadband rollout worldwide and examine applications that could see broadband networks improve the delivery of a huge range of social services, from healthcare to education, environmental management, and safety to name a few.

The Commission, which comprised of some 30 top names from around the world, represents technology, business and social enterprises leaders with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and the Honorary Lifetime Chairman of Grupo Carso, Mr. Carlos Slim Hélu, as co-chairmen, while ITU Secretary-General, Dr. Hamadoun Touré and UNESCO Director-General, Ms. Irina Bokova, will serve as joint vice chairpersons.

The Commission has the support of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who received the Commission’s findings during the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Summit in New York last September.

Speaking then at the launch of BCDD, Dr Touré said that governments now need to view broadband networks as basic national infrastructure.

“In the 21st century, affordable, ubiquitous broadband networks will be as critical to social and economic prosperity as networks like transport, water and power,” he said, pointing out that not only does broadband deliver benefits across every sector of society, it also helps promote social and economic development, and will be key in helping us get the MDGs back on track.

JACITAD was formed in 2003 to champion and assist in molding the understanding of media practitioners within the information and communication technology sector.

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