The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has said that the NCC has contributed N70bn (about $355m) to the account of the Nigerian government in the last six months.
Danbatta said in a lecture entitled: ‘Mainstreaming ICT for Poverty Reduction in Nigeria’ at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru in northern Nigeria that the first tranche of the payment was made in December for the last quarter of 2015, the second tranche of about N35bn was made in March for the first quarter of 2016.
Local media reports quoted Danbatta as saying that while the NCC was authorised to use a portion of the Annual Operating Levies paid by operators for running the organisation, a certain proportion should be paid into the Federation Account on quarterly basis.
He noted that 40 percent of the Annual Operating Levies paid by the telecommunications operators must be reserved for the Universal Access Provision Fund, which concentrates on bridging the gap in underserved and unserved communities in the rural and urban parts of the country.
Danbatta said that service provision, especially broadband Internet among unserved communities, played a great role in poverty reduction as research had shown that access to Internet provides opportunities for people to create wealth.
However, he said investment in ICT alone was not enough for development to occur and be sustained or for poverty to be eradicated, adding that successful ICT poverty reduction interventions could only be achieved with an enabling environment, participation of the private sector and non-governmental organisations, free flow of information, access to ICT by women and youths, and capacity building.
“Consequently, ICTs may be regarded as an enabler of other developmental efforts and infrastructure required for sustainable development. Only a banquet of strategies duly implemented can attempt to resolve the global menace of poverty.
“The challenge for the poor is inability to access information due to inadequate infrastructure, ignorance or illiteracy. The availability of information sources for the poor should be of great concern if poverty is to be reduced,” he said.