L R Mr. Aliyu Abubakar, Board Commissioner Nigerian Communications Commission NCC, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta Executive Vice Chair

Nigeria is seeking to close the 31 million access gap to telecoms services across the country. To achieve this, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Ali Pantami  has directed  the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to collaborate and explore the use of the TV Whitespace spectrum to bridge the gaps.

Dr Pantami spoke at a Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum to Present and Finalise the Guidelines for the Use of TV White space at the Headquarters of the NCC in Abuja, yesterday.

He  said the collaboration between the two regulatory agencies had become imperative to drive the efforts of government for inclusivity in the provision of telecoms services and drive the implementation of the Digital Economic Policy of President Muhammadu Buhari.

In his capacity as Chairman, National Frequency Management Council (NFMC) said  the two regulators had been directed to work together and produce the guidelines for TV Whitespace and the broadband infrastructure needed to  bring the 31million into the access net.

He said the forum was jointly put together by the NCC and NBC to come with legislations that is the guidelines for the deployment and usage of Television Whitespace.

Pantami said: "Television Whitespace statutorily is been given to NBC by National Frequency Management Council which I happen to be the Chairman of that council being the Minister of Communications, and NCC has a mandate of broadband penetration in Nigeria and TV Whitespace is being used today in broadband particularly to penetrate unserved and underserved areas.

"It is because of this that the NFMC charged the NCC and NBC to work together to come up with guidelines for TV Whitespace in order to provide broadband to unserved and underserved areas.

"I think this is key to the digital economy of Mr President. As we all know, the whole world today is about digital economy, it is dominating the traditional economy. According to Oxford Economics, digital economy today is around $15 trillion and it has been predicted to reach up to 60per cent of the world economy by 2022 according to world economic forum.

"So the whole world is about digital economy, it is because of this we discovered that you cannot promote digital economy without broadband and if you look at our unserved and underserved areas, the earlier we reach out to them by providing broadband the better for the digital economy.

"That is why the NCC and the NBC are working together to ensure how we can use TV Whitespace spectrum in unserved and underserved areas. They are working on regulation, developmental regulation, which is the number one pillar of digital economy in Nigeria.

"And secondly, they are working on solid infrastructure which is the third pillar of digital economy. So I think this is key, it will directly support federal government to deliver pillar number one and three out of the eight pillars of digital economy policy and strategy for a digital Nigeria.”

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