The Chairman of the Ondo State, Information Technology Agency (SITA), Mr. Olumbe Akinkugbe, has said that the state government is exploring the vast potentials of information and communication technology to drive its economy, develop the state and also better the lives of the citizenry.
Akinkugbe said this during a sensitization meeting with stakeholders on the implementation of a metro fibre network across the state.
According to him, the state government has established a collaboration with the Oodua Infraco, an Infraco consortium licensed by Federal Government to deploy high-speed and efficient Fibre Optic Cable (FOC) Open Access Network (OAN) across the southwest region.
This initiative, he noted “will not only turn Ondo into a digital hub but a destination of choice for domestic and international technology companies, it will connect institutions through fibre and prepare the state for the 21st Century Smart city.
” The project will also help to promote youth empowerment and job creation and improve the state’s Internally Generated Revenue by having fast, reliable and affordable internet connectivity to enable effective communication.
Akinkugbe added that ” the sensitization programme became necessary to sensitize all the stakeholders within the state on the proposed fibre optic rollout infrastructure within the state.
” It becomes necessary because we need the people to get behind this because it is going to affect the communities within the state in terms of infrastructure.
“The people are not aware and don’t know what is going on, so the danger of them thinking not being carried along. It is very important for us to have this sensitization meeting in regard to this project in the state.
“The benefits are immense, first of all, we are talking about deepening the penetration of broadband infrastructure, which means in essence we are trying to carry internet facilities to all local government areas within the state.
“We all understand the benefits of digitization and everybody has access to smartphones but there is no use having a phone when you’re not able to put it to optimal use. What this is going to do is to enable our people to have access to the internet and to enjoy all the services therein”
He however, appealed to the people of the state across all communities to accommodate the Oodua Infraco who had been digging a ross the state but assured that all the roads tampered with “will be repaired or reinstated to the level better than what was met there before.
“Part of our sensitization is to encourage where there is a lack of oversight of what they are supposed to do, SITA is empowered to ensure that the monitoring and evaluation of the project is ongoing and in cases where there are infractions the citizenry is encouraged to reach out to SITA and inform us areas that are lacking
“The reason we are holding this forum is to ensure that stakeholders, the community themselves are engaged and can engage the contractors and will not take laws into their hands.
Akinkugbe however, noted the challenges impeding the progress of broadband infrastructure deployment in the state to include Right-of-Way issues; indiscriminate charges and levies; hostilities by local communities; among others, which necessitated the stakeholders meeting.
The Project Director of Oodua Infraco, Mr. Jimoh Sikiru Eneye, commended the state government for putting in place the stakeholders meeting, saying it will go a long way to establish relationships between the company and the people of the state
Eneye said “We are about to build Open Access Fibre Infrastructure that will take fibre broadband connectivity to all public buildings, GSM base stations, schools, hospitals and provide access to communities to create digital hubs, hotspots and remote areas all over the state.
“This program is designed to sensitize the community about the project that is ongoing within south-west region especially in Ondo state. Not just to sensitize but to also highlight the relationship we have had with the state and how smooth it had been.
“The program is to tell the advantages of what we are doing to the people and the need for them to embrace it and give us all the necessary support to get through the project”
Also, speaking on behalf of the traditional rulers in the state, Kalasuwe of Apoi land, Oba Prof. Sunday Amusegha, noted that the sensitization programme is coming late as the digging to give way to the project had caused some friction in some communities.
Oba Amusegha, however, assured the state government of the support of traditional heads in all communities to ensure the success of the project, but called on Oodua Infraco to engage some of the youths in the various communities for the project.
Other speakers during the stakeholders meeting commended the state government for it’s efforts to connect the state to global network which will bring unprecedented development to the state.