By Na’ankwat Dariem
Professor Mohammad Abubakar
The Managing Director of Galaxy Backbone Limited,(GBB), Professor Mohammad Abubakar, has disclosed that the sum of thirty five billion naria is needed to provide two Megabits per second of internet connectivity to various government Ministries Departments Agencies in Nigeria for effective service delivery.
He disclosed this during a joint Committee of the National Assembly of Information Communications and Technology (ICT) and Cybersecurity to carry out their oversight function to the Agency in Abuja.
Professor Abubakar stated that “To provide connectivity services at a minimum broadband speed of 2Mbps to all MDAs nationwide as mandated, funding in excess of 35 billion naria will be required, while more than 200 billion naria will be required for broadband connectivity at National Broadband Plan (NBP) recommended speed.” He said.
Speaking on some of the challenges faced by the Agency, he expressed displeasure at the level of bureaucracy experienced by the GBB in carrying its mandate.
He, however, appealed to the National Assembly to make laws that will enable the Agency compete with other businesses that provides same services with them, noting that the Agency is strategizing toward making Nigeria an enabler of digital inclusion for Africa.
According to him, “Despite the state of our infrastructure, Galaxy is finding it increasingly difficult to compete with private sector companies because of bureaucracy that are peculiar to public sector institutions. Despite 40% increase in Annual Service Contract, the provision fails to match steep rise in demand for Galaxy’s services. Additional increase will be required to keep up with MDAs’ demands and needs”
He said that thou there is an internal infrastructure readiness within, “some MDAs continue to affect the quality of services enjoyed by the MDAs Internal IT capacity issues within several MDA affects uptake utilization of Galaxy Services, GBB continues to mitigate this challenge through training.
The Managing Director also solicited legislative support to increase the viability of the Agency . “Support from National Assembly for an act to define and affirm GBB Corporate structure and orientation in its relationship with FGN and MDAs. Galaxy should be relieved of all encumbrances of Government bureaucracy, such that it will operate solely within the Companies and Alliance Matters Act framework”
Abubakar also called for the promotion of proper understanding among all relevant stakeholders to continue to support the contractual nature of GBB operations and services to Government. “This entails Service Provisioning and National Infrastructure maintenance relationship of GBB withdrew Government should continue to be contractual in funding, implementation and operations”
He added that government is to cater for the liability of maintaining operation of NICTIB Infrastructure as developmental project for Digital Inclusion and Broadband penetration. Galaxy will not be able to fund operations of the infrastructure from its “Service Wide Vote” and Internally generated revenue.”
In a joint statement by the co-chairmen of the joint Committee, Senator Yakubu Useni and Honourable Abubakar Lado, after the facility tour of the National Shared Services Centre of the GBB, pledged to support the Agency, noting that , “in our role as Legislators, we renew our commitment in ensuring that GBB gets all the support it needs to complete this project which will help in deapening the broadband penetration in our nation and improve the internet experience in and around cities in the country”
On the issue of funding, the National Assembly urged the Federal Government to increase the funding so that Galaxy Backbone can operate at par with its private sector counterparts and the digital future of the nation can be secured.
“We believe once the financial and policy support is given GBB, not just public sector organization will become more effective and efficient but Small and Medium size business can take advantage of this infrastructure, which is also meant for them as Nigerians, so that they can grow their businesses and ultimately improve the standard of living of the entire nation.”
According to the Committee “What we have seen today has corrected lots of the misconceptions we initially had about the operations of Galaxy Backbone. With the revelations coming out of this oversight exercise, we all need to pray as a matter of urgency in ensuring that Galaxy Backbone is supported financially in making this dream a reality.”
They explained that “Our part as National Assembly, we will ensure that we engage members of the Federal Executive Council and the agencies in charge in making this to happen. Creating a digital nation is Paramount for the economic and social future of our nation and we believe Galaxy Backbone will play a fundamental role in making sure this happens .So in supporting that GBB is better funded, we will also make sure that funds approved put into proper use for benefit of the entire nation”.
The committee also reiterated that the remaining floors of the Datacenter be completed and equipped; Data Centre shaver to be build in the six geopolitical zones of the Nation; More tech and operations professionals need to come on board to manage the operations; more metro and intercity Fibre operations have to be rolled out to improve internet and digital experience.
To improve their services to the nation and research, development and innovation have to be deepened to ensure that the digital evolution journey is consistently met with the changes going on globally and locally.