The Managing Director of Galaxy Backbone, Limited (GBB), Professor Mohammad Abubakar, says a total of thirty-five billion naira is needed to provide internet connectivity services at a minimum broadband speed of two megabits per second to all Ministries Departments and Agencies(MDAs) in Nigeria.
He disclosed this while receiving the National Assembly’s Joint Committee on Information Communications and Technology (ICT) and Cybersecurity to carry out their oversight function to the Agency in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Professor Abubakar explained that; “To provide connectivity services at a minimum broadband speed of 2Mbps to all MDAs nationwide as mandated, funding in excess of 35 billion naira will be required, while more than 200 billion naira will be required for broadband connectivity at National Broadband Plan (NBP) recommended speed.”
Speaking on some of the challenges faced by the Agency, he expressed displeasure at the level of bureaucracy experience by the GBB in carrying its mandate.
According to him“Despite the state of art infrastructure, Galaxy is finding it increasingly difficult to compete with private sector companies because of bureaucracy that is peculiar to public sector institutions. Despite 40% increase in the Annual Service Contract, the provision fails to match the steep rise in demand for Galaxy’s services, the additional increase will be required to keep up with MDAs’ demands and needs.”
“Internal infrastructure readiness within some MDAs continue to affect the quality of services enjoyed by the MDAs Internal IT capacity and utilization of GBB continues to mitigate this challenge through training by Galaxy Backbone Ltd.“
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 incumbrances 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 the Government.
“This entails Service Provisioning and National Infrastructure maintenance relationship of GBB with Government should continue to be contractual in funding, implementation and operations.“
He added that the government is to cater for the liability of maintaining the operation of NICTIB Infrastructure as a 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,“ he added.
In a joint statement by the co-chairmen of the Joint Committee, Senator Yakubu Useni and Abubakar Lado after the facility tour of the National Shared Services Centre of the GBB, they 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 depending the broadband penetration in our nation and improve the internet experience in and around cities in the country.“
They also urged the Federal Government to increase the funding of Galaxy Backbone so that it operates at par with the private sector counterparts
“We believe once the financial and policy support is given GBB, not just public sector organisation 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 Joint Committee “What we have seen today has corrected slot 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 play as a matter of urgency in ensuring that Galaxy Backbone 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 and the agencies in charge in making this 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 to put into proper use for benefit of the entire nation,“ the Joint Committee added.