By Samuel Ohwovoriole
The Managing Director, Galaxy Backbone (GBB), Prof. Mohammad Abubakar, intimated the joint Committee of the National Assembly on Information Communication and Technology (ICT) and Cybersecurity that the organisation needs N35 billion to provide effective internet service at 2mbps to MDA’s.
Prof. Abubakar made this known on Thursday in Abuja, when the National Assembly joint Committee on ICT and Cybersecurity were at the agency to carry out their oversight function.
He urged the National Assembly for their assistance so that the agency could operate without bureaucracy by enacting laws that would enable the agency to compete with other private business outfits that provide same services with GBB.
“To provide connectivity services at a minimum broadband speed of 2Mbps to all MDAs nationwide as mandated.
“Funding in excess of 35 billion will be required, while more than 200 Billion will be required for broadband connectivity at National Broadband Plan (NBP) recommended speed.
“Despite the state of art 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 per cent 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.
He, however, said that the Internal Infrastructure readiness issues within some MDAs would continue to affect the quality of services enjoyed by the MDAs.
He also said that the Internal IT capacity issues within several MDA affects uptake and utilisation of Galaxy Services, adding that GBB continues to mitigate this challenge through training.Abubakar also used the opportunity to ask the national assembly members to assist in making the agency more viable.
According to him, “Support from National Assembly for an act to define and affirm GBB corporate structure and orientation in its relationship with the Federal Government and MDAs.
“Galaxy should be relieved of all incumbrances of government bureaucracy, such that it will operate solely within the CAMA framework.
“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 with Government should continue to be contractual in funding, implementation and operations.
“Government 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 from the co-chairmen of the Committee, Sen. Yakubu Oseni and Hon. Abubakar Lado promised that they would renew their commitment and ensure that GBB got the needed support to complete the project.
Oseni explained that the project would help to deepen broadband penetration and improve the internet experience in and around cities within the country.
He said that small and medium size businesses could take advantage of this infrastructure, which was meant for them as Nigerians, so that they could grow their businesses and ultimately improve the standard of living in the entire nation.
He urged the government to increase GBB’s funding so as to aid with the projects.
“We believe once the financial and policy support is given to GBB not just being a public sector organisation will become more effective and efficient.
“What we have seen today has corrected slot of the misconceptions we initially heard about the operations of GBB.
“With the revelations coming out of this oversight exercise, we all need to play as a matter of urgency in ensuring that GBB is supported financially in making this dream a reality.
“Our part as National Assembly, we will ensure that we engage members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the agencies in charge in making this happen.
He noted that creating a digital nation was paramount for its economic and social future, adding that GBB would play a fundamental role in making it happen, after which funds were approved and put into proper use.