Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy
Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy

Pantami Unveils STORM Internet Service Powered By Galaxy Backbone

TECH DIGEST – The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami has expressed optimisms that the newly launched Internet Service Provider (ISP) named STORM will positively impact the digital economy agenda of the government.

To this end, Pantami said that Digital Economy cannot be implemented in isolation or in silos hence as such, the path of partnership being pursued by Galaxy Backbone Limited (GBB) is the right path.

He made the remarks while delivering a keynote address during the launch of STORM.ng in Enugu on Tuesday by GBB in partnership with Interra Networks Limited.

STORM.ng
STORM.ng

“I would like to congratulate Galaxy Backbone and its project partners for achieving this great feat which provides a platform to deliver fast and efficient Internet and Hosting services for the South-East and South-South region of the country”, the Minister said.

Speaking specifically on Nigeria’s digital transformation agenda, Pantami said that since 2019, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy has championed the agenda in efforts to position it as one of the leading Digital Economies in the world.

“To achieve this aim, we developed the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS 2020-2030) with the clear vision “to transform Nigeria into a leading Digital Economy providing quality life and digital economies for all”, and a mission to “build a nation where digital innovation and entrepreneurship are used to create value and prosperity for all”, he said.

The STORM initiative, he said, is in line with the National Digital Economy Policy for a Digital Nigeria (2020 – 2030).

“In particular, it supports the implementation of Pillar #3 (the Solid Infrastructure Pillar). It is also in alignment with the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020 – 2025).

“Broadband connectivity plays a major role in the economic fortunes of countries around the world and a 10% increase in broadband penetration can lead to growth in Gross Domestic Product in the region of 0.6 to 2.8%.

“Furthermore, the use of broadband technology goes beyond facilitating socialization. Rather, it supports key sectors of the economy, such as the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). These enterprises are a critical part of the Nigerian economy and broadband access enables then to extend their services beyond their physical locations through the use of e-commerce platforms.

“STORM is a significant milestone in support of the Federal Government’s efforts to accelerate broadband penetration across cities and underserved communities. It will support us in meeting the target of the NNBP, which aims to achieve a 90% broadband penetration by 2025”, he said.

The STORM platform has the capacity to provide non-stop high-speed internet and hosting services across Enugu, Ebonyi, Owerri, Portharcourt, Awka, Onitsha and Asaba cities.

“Among others,” Pantami said, “this will increase accessibility to internet services for businesses and residences at these locations, thereby improving the quality of citizens’ lives. It will also provide an enabling environment for existing businesses and create opportunities for new businesses.

“Furthermore, according to a World Bank report, ‘Africa has the opportunity to harness the Digital Economy as a driver of growth and innovation, but if it fails to bridge the digital divide, its economies risk isolation and stagnation’.

“As a nation we are committed to ensuring that we exploit the opportunities of the Digital Economy.

“Through platforms like STORM we are extending the provision of internet services beyond major cities in the country, thereby deepening broadband penetration across the country to overcome the existing digital divide. A 2021 Report by Statistica shows that Nigeria had over 154 million internet users in 2020, the largest in the whole of Africa, followed by Egypt with 54.74 million users.

“In the same year, it seemed as though operations were stalled due to the novel COVID-19 pandemic. It will interest you to know that at the height of the pandemic last year, when it seemed as though government interactions and communications could grind to a halt due to the inability to hold physical Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings.

“I mandated the Managing Director of Galaxy Backbone and his team to ensure that the FEC meetings continued virtually in spite of the pandemic.

“I am delighted that Galaxy Backbone used its Digital and Communications infrastructure to achieve this, providing a secure platform to connect the members at the FEC meetings from their respective locations. Since May 13th 2020 when the virtual meetings commenced, we have conducted about 50 successful and hitch-free Virtual FEC meetings using the Galaxy Backbone’s platform”, he said.

The Minister added that Nigeria is endowed with enormous potentials, and it is his belief that Digital Services will expand and strengthen the development of these potentials.

“I therefore encourage us to work together to ensure that we expand the wealth and prosperity of our nation.

“On this note, I would like to thank the team from GBB and Interra Network team for putting this launch together. I look forward to receiving good news on the great value to be impacted by STORM in the coming months. The Digital Economy cannot be implemented in isolation or in silos. As such, the path of partnership being pursued by GBB is the right path”.

Earlier, the Managing Director/CEO, Galaxy Backbone, Prof. Mohammed Abubakar, said that the plan to launch the project in year 2020 was aborted by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“Now, change is the only constant thing in life and as people living in a fast changing digital world, I am sure you all know how important it is to ensure we embrace change so that we are not left behind at the ‘speed of light’ transformations taking place all around us.

“We are confident that by making fast and reliable internet services available in urban and rural communities, greater number of job opportunities will emanate and we can lift more people out of poverty.

“History has shown us that in every major pandemic, one or two sectors begin to thrive and lead to the transformation of the lives of entire communities and indeed the world. In this case, Digital Technologies has taken centre stage especially in Nigeria where we have noted its great contribution to the GDP of our country in the last quarter of the year 2020. Projections continue to show an upward movement in this even in this year 2021.

“We are not unmindful of the strides recorded by most of our competitors in this industry. However, we are confident that the broadband internet connectivity and hosting service being offered by STORM will lead to an experience that you will find efficient, reliable and with great support.

The MD/CEO added that STORM will bridge the notable gaps in the market in terms of reliable internet service.

Speaking on ‘Partnering to serve: The Storm Value Proposition”, the President/CEO, Interra Networks, Mr. David Onu, said that the service will enable greater youth participation in technology and digital economy agenda of the government.

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