By Yetunde Verissimo, The Sight News
Lagos: Stakeholders in the Information and Communication Technology sector, have at the 7th edition of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF19), urged the government to work with the private sector to improve access to the internet.
The three-day Pan-African Forum organized by Paradigm Initiative in Lagos, is out to provide a debating platform to address global issues surrounding digital inclusion and digital rights in Africa, with stakeholders from across Africa and the world in attendance.
One of the focus of this year’s forum, titled “Moving policy makers into action to advance digital inclusion”, looks to ensure that policies made by government across Africa would aid the advancement of digital inclusion.
A Panelist Funke Opeke, CEO MainOne, noted that the government has to support the private sector to improve access to the internet.
According to her, “Even though we have the willingness and capacity to deploy required infrastructure to expand access, we simply can’t without government permits which aren’t always forthcoming.
“Challenges of improving access are not a result of lack of plans but a result of poor coordination and cohesiveness of the plan. We are not holding ourselves accountable to timelines and deliverables” she added.
Also, the Director of ICT, Ministry of Communication, Monilola Udoh, posited that a public-private collaboration was needed for effective growth in the sector.
“There is need for a private and public collaboration to tackle the challenges that exist in terms of access to the internet”, Udoh said.
Furthermore, the chairperson Alliance for Affordable Internet and former CEO NCC, Dr Ernest Ndukwe, emphasized that attention must be placed on government to provide digital access, adding that any government that provides such should be applauded.
In his words, “We need to focus more attention on what government can do to ensure people have access. The civil society and citizens alike should commend state governments doing the right thing in expanding access and criticise those doing poorly.”
The Forum is expected to refocus attention on issues confronting the digital space on a continent where human rights online are routinely violated.