FG tells network operators to reduce data, call charges

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The federal government has called on mobile network operators in Nigeria to further reduce the price of data and calls for citizens since the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has led to a massive migration to digital platforms.

It was gathered that Dr Isa Ali Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy made the call following an approval made by President Muhammadu Buhari for the protection of telecoms infrastructure across the country.

The Minister, in a statement by Uwa Suleiman (Mrs), Spokesperson to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, revealed that Buhari has approved and also directed that necessary physical protective measures be emplaced to safeguard telecommunications infrastructure deployed across the country.

According to the statement, the reduction of data and call charges should be done by the mobile network operators in the country to reciprocate the gesture of the government of protecting and safeguarding telecoms infrastructure across the country.

The Nigerian telecommunications industry depends on a number of infrastructure that play a critical role in the smooth delivery of telecoms services.  These are part of critical national infrastructure because of the important role they play in ensuring security and in the delivery of other essential services.

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As part of the policy of the federal government, Pantami championed efforts to identify telecommunications infrastructure as critical national infrastructure, with a view to protecting them from vandalization and theft, amongst other things.

The statement reads: “The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, has led to a massive migration to digital platforms and has increased the level of importance of Critical National Infrastructure to the sustenance of our economy and the security of the nation.

“The Honourable Minister is delighted to inform stakeholders in the telecommunications industry that, His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has approved and also directed that necessary physical protective measures be emplaced to safeguard telecommunications infrastructure deployed across the country.

“The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Department of State Security Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), have been notified of Mr President’s directive.

“We are also working towards the reinforcement of these directives through appropriate regulatory instruments. Dr Pantami specially appreciates the security institutions, and commends the commitment they have demonstrated in securing these infrastructure.

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“The implementation of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) and the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, both unveiled by Mr. President, have repositioned the ICT sector.

“This is evident by the recent ‘Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product Report’ released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which showed that the ICT sector contributed an unprecedented 14.07% to the total real GDP in the first quarter of 2020.

“The Honorable Minister is truly grateful for the timely approval of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, and we are confident that this will address the challenge of vandalism of our Critical National Infrastructure.  It will also go a long way in supporting the implementation of the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025).

“Finally, the Federal Government strongly urges the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to ensure that they further reduce the price of data and calls for citizens. This is to reciprocate this gesture, and to submit a comprehensive list of their facility locations all over the country”.

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