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Google banks on $1 bln investment to transform Nigeria’s tech industry

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By Samuel Bankole

Google’s commitment to invest $1billion in the next five years in various interventions will support digital transformation in Nigeria and across Africa, according to the Director, Google West Africa, Juliet Ehimuan.

Ehimuan, who said this while on a visit to the headquarters of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), noted that research has proven that Africa will have an additional 300 million Internet users and Nigeria will lead in that number, given its current statistics of over 141 million internet subscribers and a broadband penetration of over 40.88 per cent as at January 2022.

Ehimuan said demands for internet services have increased the need for more capacity, and sustainable collaborations with all relevant stakeholders within the public and private sectors.

The Equiano cable system is the third private international cable owned by Google and the 14th subsea cable invested by Google. Equiano connects Portugal and South Africa, running along the West Coast of Africa, with branching units along the way that can be used to extend connectivity to more African countries. The first branch is expected to land in Nigeria by end of April 2022.

She commended the NCC seamless, fair, credible, impartial and successful auction of the 3.5 Gigahertz spectrum for the deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) in Nigeria, stating that it is evident that both the NCC and Google share a common goal.

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The NCC and Google Global Services Nigeria expressed determination to work together toward advancing the actualisation of auspicious national targets for ubiquitous broadband access in furtherance of Nigeria’s digital transformation policy.

This aligns with and gives unambiguous expression to NCC’s strategic vision plan centring on strategic partnership and collaboration with necessary stakeholders in order to achieve regulatory objectives.

Receiving the Google team, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Umar Garba Danbatta, said the Commission’s expectations, initiatives, and vision towards increasing broadband penetration, quality of service, advancement of a digital economy and commitment to improving national security through technological advancement are at the front burner of its regulatory interventions.

Underscoring the importance of such synergy between the Commission and Google, Danbatta, who was represented by the Executive Commissioner, Technical Services (ECTS), NCC, Engr. Ubale Maska, said the Commission looked forward to making the initiatives of both parties more impactful by enhancing cooperation between the NCC and Google Nigeria for quantifiable and remarkable impact.

The EVC expressed optimism that Google’s investment in the subsea cable, Equiano, which is expected to land in Nigeria by end of April 2022, will be more impactful in driving NCC’s ongoing implementation of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025, aimed at increasing broadband penetration to 70 per cent by 2025.

“I am hopeful that Equiano will have additional landing points in the hinterlands through collaborative efforts with the licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) to reduce retail data prices significantly and thereby complementing the Commission’s efforts at ensuring affordable Internet services are available to boost the Commission’s ongoing broadband policy drive,” he said.

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