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Stakeholders Express Optimism Over Proposed Lagos Innovation Bill

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In the wake of the Lagos State Government’s engagement with stakeholders on the proposed Lagos Innovation Policy Bill, key players have expressed optimism and support on the potential of the bill on the state’s development, and by extension, the country’s.

L-R: Akeem Hassan, Technical Advsier to the Honorable Commisioner, Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology (MIST); Omotayo Fisuyi, SSA on Innovation and Technology, Lagos; Prof Peter Bamkole, COO, Pan Atlantic University; Hon. Tunbosun Alake, Commisioner, MIST; Adeleke Alex-Adedipe, Managing Partner, DOA, all at the stakeholders engagement on the proposed Lagos Innovation Bill recently at the Eko Innovation Centre, Lagos.

Among the voices of endorsement is Beverly Agbakoba, Head of the Sport, Entertainment, and Technology Practice at Agbakoba Chambers. In an exclusive interview, Agbakoba expressed her excitement over the state government’s bold initiative, hailing it as a long-overdue step that will drive Lagos into the 21st century.  “I am so excited to see that Lagos State has taken the initiative to formulate an innovation bill,” Agbakoba remarked, “It took me by surprise; I only found out yesterday, and I am very happy to see we are finally beginning to step into the 21st century.”

Agbakoba’s endorsement carries weight, as her legal practice covers the sports, entertainment, and technology – industries that stand to benefit greatly from the innovative digital infrastructure and regulatory framework envisioned by the proposed bill.

“Having a bill is a very good step in the right direction. It means we are going to lay a blueprint for how we communicate and how we set up digital infrastructure, physical infrastructure, and how we can make this state the real economy hub of not just Nigeria but Africa because we are one of the most populous nations on earth. But how are we enabling our people for the 21st century?”

She highlighted the current challenges faced by the state, including poor electricity supply and inadequate road networks, emphasizing the need for the Innovation Bill to pave the way for comprehensive solutions.

Beyond mere rhetoric, Agbakoba called for tangible action and sustained engagement, urging the formation of stakeholder committees and consultation mechanisms to ensure the innovation ecosystem remains at the forefront of the bill’s development and implementation.

“From this event today, let there be some active follow-ups,” she implored. “We want to hear about the stakeholders’ committees that should be set up, the consultation committee to engage the ecosystem. One thing we said today is there must be ongoing engagement and good communication.”

She encouraged other states in Nigeria to emulate the visionary leadership exhibited by the Lagos State Government, recognizing the potential ripple effect that such an initiative could have on the nation’s technological and economic landscape.

When asked about the specific elements she would like to see enshrined in the bill, Agbakoba’s priorities were clear: robust public-private partnership frameworks, clearly defined collaborative mechanisms, and a steadfast commitment to ongoing administration and maintenance of the envisioned digital infrastructure.

Agbakoba’s vision for a fully digitized Lagos, where hospitals, roads, and public schools are seamlessly integrated into a state-wide network, providing universal internet access to every child, underlined the potential of the Innovation Bill. However, she cautioned that realizing this vision hinges on a commitment to maintaining and sustaining the new systems.

“I really want to see the will to maintain the new system,” Agbakoba stated emphatically. “I can’t wait for Lagos to be completely wired, all hospitals, roads, public schools where every child has access to the internet.”

The event, chaired by the Honourable Commissioner for Innovation, Science and Technology, Mr. Olatubosun Alake, was an avenue for co-creation and collaboration, a move that has been variously been described as Lagos State Government’s commitment to an inclusive and participatory approach to policymaking. Among the stakeholders present at the occasion are Adaora Ikenze – Director, Public Policy, Meta; Prof. Peter Bankole – COO, Pan Atlantic University and LASRIC Member; Nkemdilim Uwaje Begho – Founder, Futuresoft; LASRIC and Alex-Adedipe Adeleke – DOA Law, among others.

In his opening remarks, the honourable commissioner emphasized the important role of Lagos State in driving innovation investment in Nigeria and indeed, Africa, noting that approximately 70 to 80 percent of innovation funding flows into the state. He stressed the urgency of establishing a robust policy framework that encourages continuous innovation investment and drives Lagos to the forefront of the digital revolution. “This is because it can encourage or discourage continuous innovation investment in the state. Today’s engagement is in line with driving an innovation policy framework,” he said.

Victor Afolabi, Chief Executive Officer of the Eko Innovation Centre, in his welcome address, emphasized the significance of the stakeholder engagement as a co-creation event, where collective deliberation would shape the regulatory incentives and create an inclusive innovation ecosystem. He commended the commissioner’s vision and commitment to advancing innovation in Lagos State, describing the state as the innovation engine room of the country and a globally recognized hub for innovation.

The highly engaging and robust stakeholder engagement witnessed active participation from government agencies, the private sector, development agencies, and other key stakeholders. The event featured five breakout sessions, where participants made actionable recommendations and proffered realistic solutions to contribute to the framework of the proposed Lagos Innovation Bill.

 


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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University. Dear Reader, Your support matters. But we believe that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. That is why, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and finance and how they affect lives. Our incisive and analytical view of how technology news affects the daily life help individuals and organizations make up their minds. Quality journalism costs money. Today, we're asking that you support us to do more. Kindly support our effort to deliver technology and finance journalism to everyone in the world. Donate as little as N1,000. Bank transfers can be made to: UBA Plc 1017156876 Communication Week Media Ltd

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Subscribers Decry Poor Service Delivery by Telcos, Accuse NCC of Playing the Ostrich

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Telecommunications subscribers have waxed angrily at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for pretending that everything was fine while subscribers grapple with unreliable internet and call services.

Subscribers Decry Poor Service Delivery by Telcos, Accuse NCC of Playing the Ostrich

They want the regulator could do more by compelling Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), also known as telcos, to improve their service.

Some of the major complaints are connection failures, poor data service, fluctuating network, data roll over challenges, illegal credit deductions and uncompleted calls.

Experts said that the drop in service quality has been attributed to the fact that three out of the four mobile network operators failed to meet the industry standards for network service.

In separate calls; Association of Telephone, CableTv, and Internet Subscribers of Nigeria (ATCIS-Nigeria) and National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOM) urged the NCC to live up to its responsibility of protecting subscribers.

Sina Bilesanmi, president, ATCIS-Nigeria, accused the NCC of pretending that everything was fine while subscribers groaned.

He said that ATCIS-Nigeria members have not only complained about drop calls and inability to originate calls, but they are also unable to access their airtime balance after recharging.

Bilesanmi argued that now that service quality has nosedived, there was no ground for telcos to justify any demand for a tariff increase.

He said that “ I have been inundated with complaints about low service quality from my members.

“ It is worrisome and the NCC is pretending that all is well. This low service quality is coming at a time when the MNOs are asking for a hike in tariff and our members were beginning to show understanding because, quite frankly, the tariff has remained the same for over a decade.

“The operators should tell us if they have any challenges.”

Elsewhere, Deolu Ogunbanjo, national president, NATCOM, said the service rendered by the MNOs had become  ‘’so bad’ that subscribers now lament openly.

He added that the telcos, on their part,   complained about their constraints to expand capacity.”

He said: “It(service delivery) has been so bad. It was one of the issues raised last Thursday but the telcos complained about their constraint to expand capacity and the need to raise tariff.”

Ogunbanjo said he supported the demand for an increase in tariff because it was overdue.

He, however, said an increase must be marginal in order not to asphyxiate the industry.

 

 


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Meta Disagrees with $220m Fine, Sets for Appeal

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Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp and Facebook, is preparing to appeal a decision by Nigerian regulators to impose a $220 million fine against it for alleged market power abuse and privacy violations.

Meta Disagrees with $220m Fine, Sets for Appeal

The company said that “We disagree with this decision as well as the fine and we are appealing the decision,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.

The spokesperson did not specify where and when the appeal will be lodged.

It will be recalled that the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) published the fine last week, capping a three-year investigation.

The inquiry focused on data sharing practices on WhatsApp, the most widely used messaging service in Nigeria.

The commission claimed it found evidence of “multiple and repeated, as well as continuing infringements” of the country’s data protection and competition laws and imposed the fine as a final resolution.

Meta was ordered to “immediately reinstate the rights of Nigerian users to self-determine and control” data sharing, and stop sharing WhatsApp users’ information “with other Facebook companies and third parties” without users’ active consent.

It was also required to pay $35,000 to cover the cost of the commission’s investigation, in addition to the $220 million penalty. Both amounts are to be paid within 60 days from July 18.

Nigeria began looking into WhatsApp, which has an estimated 51 million users in the country, in May 2021.

That was four months after the app updated its global privacy policy on messaging between individuals and businesses, and how users’ data may be shared with Facebook.

Meta began responding to concerns detailed in Nigeria’s report around March this year, pledging to cooperate towards “reaching an amicable resolution,” according to the commission.

A “remedy package” proposed by Meta and sent mid-April proved unsatisfactory to the commission, however, its report said.

It is not clear what this package is — an email for comment to the commission was not responded to. Nigeria still expects Meta to implement it and publish it on WhatsApp’s website within two weeks, in addition to the fines.

Beyond complying with its laws, Nigeria’s aim with the penalties is to get Meta to “cease the exploitation of consumers and their market abuse,” the commission said.

 

 


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WATRA Says Digital Economy Contributes $30Bn Annually to W/African GDP

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The West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA) has said that the digital economy currently contributes around $30 billion annually to the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

WATRA Says Digital Economy Contributes $30Bn Annually to W/African GDP

WATRA also called for lower cost of internet access to enhance the digital economy for the respective countries in the region.

Mr Aliyu Aboki, executive secretary, WATRA, who disclosed this during a virtual press conference at the weekend also said the West African telecommunications market is now valued at $63.17 billion with over 400 million mobile subscribers.

However, Aboki said WATRS is working on initiatives to facilitate infrastructure sharing among West African countries to lower the cost of internet for telecom subscribers across the region.

According to him, infrastructure such as gateways, and data centres are facilities that could be shared by countries in the region.

Admitting that the cost of internet across West African countries is still high, Aboki said a lower cost of internet access would enhance the digital economy for the respective countries in the region and increase the consumption of data by the citizens, which in turn generate more revenue for the telecom operators.

“We are exploring regional initiatives to share infrastructure and reduce cost. For example, we have infrastructures like gateways, data center servers, and so on. These are infrastructures that can be shared and used by different countries without necessarily having everyone building the same infrastructure.

“So, we are collectively looking at these rich regional initiatives that enable us to share infrastructure to bring down the cost of Internet ultimately,” the WATRA scribe said.

 

 


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