By Mmaduabuchi Onwumelu
In the next six months, most government and public offices in Anambra State will have access to high-speed internet to unlock unlimited prospects for the various sectors of the state economy.
This was disclosed by the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Anambra State ICT Agency, Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata, during a live appearance on a national television on Tuesday.
Agbata said the present administration of Governor Chukwuma Soludo had set off with identifying technology as a critical component in his efforts to turn Anambra into a liveable and prosperous state, and had focused on securing partners in the technology and telecommunications sector.
According to him, the state has signed with some partners and is presently building the state metro fibre and when it is done, Anambra state will have a high quality Internet in government offices and public places.
“If you move around today, you will see ducts being dug and fibre being laid across various parts of the State.
“This is part of the governor’s promise that for the state to be part of the digital revolution, it must have the required infrastructure. Without broadband, nothing will happen with respect to leveraging technology and the opportunities that it brings,” he said.
Describing the benefits of having access to quality, high speed broadband as limitless, Agbata said across sectors, it breeds creativity, eases tasks and opens up opportunities, depending on what the people want to do with it.
He said, “For Anambra, technology had been deployed to boost educational activities, to expand the scope of telemedicine services already in place in the state, and numerous other things. High speed affordable internet can also help our teeming young population to begin to create things such as contents that will yield revenue and many other prospects. So the opportunities are endless.
“By the time we have more companies doing broadband services and at very affordable costs, it will be a breakthrough for the citizens to create endless businesses and services.”
As part of measures to deepen broadband penetration, the National Broadband Council had encouraged states to de-emphasize charging telecommunication companies for Right-of-Way, RoW.
According to Agbata, in Anambra, Governor Soludo had made it a policy that partners working in that area are not charged.
This he said, is because the governor recognizes that the infrastructure that these partners are providing, will be critical for development across every sector of the state economy and provide platform to build the digital copulate of the future.
“Time is coming when more and more people will rely on technology for banking, education, health, e-business and many other things.
“So we encourage other Southeast states to refrain from charging for the RoW.
“There is a competition across the geo-political zones in terms of investments and other new aspects of business and if we are not ready, these investors will tilt towards those zones that are more conducive for the kind of investment they are bringing.
“Anambra is doing a lot in the light of technology and other states are encouraged to borrow a leaf from Anambra,” Agbata said.
Agbata, who was of the opinion that government for now, should not look at the technology ecosystem as an avenue for revenue, said as an enabler, technology should be seen as an investment area that would boost operations in other sectors, that will in turn, yield revenue for the government.
“I have been a practitioner in the industry for two decades now and it has always been my view that considering the prospects technology has for the growth and development of other sectors, government should not think of the Technology ecosystem as an area for tax exploration.
“It enables from agriculture to commerce, to education, to industry, to healthcare and so on, and these sectors will now be where government can muster revenue from.
‘Silicon valley that we all talk about today, is a result of carefully thought-through policies of government. So government should learn to invest in this space, until it’s ripe enough to yield and it sure will,” he opined.