By Jessica Dogo
The Galaxy Backbone (GBB) and Interra Networks have officially launched an Internet Service Provider, codenamed STORM.ng, for the benefit of the South East and South South regions of the country.
The project, under the Nigeria National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone (NICTIB) Phase I, was launched in Enugu State on Tuesday.
The project was launched by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalled that Galaxy Backbone had deployed fibre optics to 17 major cities across the federation under the first phase of NICTIB.
The GBB and Interra Networks, through STORM, would cover Enugu, Ebonyi, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Awka, Onitsha and Asaba under its national fibre roll out programme.
In his keynote address, Pantami expressed delight with the unveiling of STORM as a fibre connectivity and digital services platform powered by GBB, which aligned with the vision of the present administration.
The Minister, who joined virtually, explained that STORM would open up massive opportunities for corporates, small businesses and for homes looking to improve the quality of internet services in those regions.
“I would like to congratulate Galaxy Backbone and its project partners for achieving this great feat, which will provide fast and efficient delivery of Internet and hosting services for the South-East and South-South regions.
“Since 2019, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy has championed the country’s digital transformation 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.”
He said the mission was “to build a nation where digital innovation and entrepreneurship are used to create value and prosperity for all.”
He, however recalled that STORM initiative was in line with the National Digital Economy Policy for a Digital Nigeria (2020 – 2030).
Pantami added that STORM was a significant milestone in support of the Federal Government’s efforts to accelerate broadband penetration across cities and underserved communities in the country.
He expressed optimism that Digital Services would expand and strengthen development since Nigeria was endowed with enormous potential.
He congratulated GBB and Interra Network teams for putting the launch in place and urged them to work together in order to ensure wealth and prosperity was expanded in the nation.
“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.
“A 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration can lead to growth in Gross Domestic Product in the region of 0.6 per cent to 2.8 per cent.
“Furthermore, the use of broadband technology goes beyond facilitating socialisation.
“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 them to extend their services beyond their physical locations through the use of e-commerce platforms.
“It will support government’s effort in meeting the target of the NNBP, which aims to achieve a 90 per cent broadband penetration by 2025.
“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,” he said.
Earlier, the Managing Director of GBB, Prof. Mohammed Abubakar, said the plan to launch the project in year 2020 was aborted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Abubakar, who also joined virtually, expressed optimism that with the official launch of STORM, GBB and Interra Networks were ready to unleash broadband services to organisations and homes in South East and South South.
He informed that STORM would bridge the notable gaps in the market in terms of reliable internet service.
According to him, 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 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 Technology has taken centre stage, especially in Nigeria, where we have observed its great contributions to the GDP of our country in the last quarter of the year 2020.
“We are not unmindful of the strides recorded by most of our competitors in this industry.
“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.”
Speaking on ‘”Partnering to Serve: The Storm Value Proposition”, the President, Interra Networks, Mr David Onu, said that the service would enable greater youth participation in technology and digital economy drive.
According to Onu, ICT is considered to be the new oil worldwide and it is very interesting to see that just 15 years ago, the top six companies were oil companies.
“Today, those companies are no more in the top 10. The only one that has broken the top 10 record is the Exxon Mobil.
“And you ask yourself what has made it so. What have made it so are the IT services and data.
“It is something interesting, taken away from the corporate world and countries that were considered to belong to the third world 20 years ago.
“It is interesting to see how they have erased their poverty index; by empowering people, creating jobs and creating wealth.”
He, however bemoaned the misnomer in Nigeria, which was excessive reliance on natural resources, adding that the biggest strength had been intellectual resources.
“What has been going on today in the country is that silent revolution and it will soon take the country by storm with the engagement of our young people in technology.
“We hear of our young people getting investments from companies outside the country to expand; we hear of services that are being used Africa-wide and worldwide and we haven’t even started.
He hinged the launch of STORM on the harnessing of the capacity of young people and businesses in the regions to boost the economy.
Dignitaries present at the event included the former Minister of Aviation, Mr Osita Chidoka; Commissioner, Enugu State Ministry of Science and Technology, Sir Carl Obi Kama; Commissioner, Imo State Ministry of Science and Technology, Prof. Boniface Nworgu.
Others were Director of ICT, Delta State Ministry of Science and Technology, Rocky Ighoyota; Group Head, Regional Offices, Galaxy Backbone, Abdul-Malik Suleiman; Head, Regional Business & Operations, Galaxy Backbone (Lagos and South West), Tope Dele-Oni, among others. (NAN)