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Nigeria’s Minister for Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare, has hinted that the Federal Government could subsidize the cost of data in the near future. He says the idea of lowering the cost of accessing the internet is being considered “in the inner recesses of the government.”

Mr. Dare disclosed this in a podcast interview with journalist Kadaria Ahmed. An excerpt from the discussion containing his reference to the possible reduction in data costs was posted on Ms. Kadaria’s Twitter page.

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The interview touched on the online training programs initiated by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, which Dare heads.

When asked whether the government would be subsidizing data for the people who would be partaking in the programs, the minister said that government policy was moving in that direction.

“I think we’re going to get to that point, if the government could subsidize petroleum products for a long time”

He said.

“Data is the new oil. Data is actually life now, because that is what is engaging everyone.

“And I think within the inner recesses of government, that consideration is ongoing, to see how we can partner with telecommunications companies to subsidize data.”

Dare suggested that the government could foot the cost of data in part, but that it couldn’t guarantee free data because of the extensive costs that telecoms companies rack up across their service distribution chains.

“Don’t forget that this data cannot be really free because there’s a cost implication, to run the base stations, to keep the power running, and they have to pay their workers.”

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According to him, any possible subsidy on data would be delivered with the aim of making online opportunities available to a broader segment of Nigeria’s population.  

The Ministry of Youth and Sports is currently running an online digital skills program for young people in Nigeria. The initiative, tagged, is the result of collaboration between the ministry and IBM.

Last week, Dare had expressed satisfaction with the progress of the program. He revealed that about 3,000 youth have accessed free online courses offered under the initiative, particularly during the COVID-19 shutdown. 

However, there have been concerns about the ability of a financially burdened population to spare scarce resources to online trainings of the sort being run by the Ministry of Youth and Sport.

There have also been calls for telecommunications companies to reduce the cost of data, as the lockdown imposed by the government has increased Nigerian’s dependence on the internet.

Featured Image Source: The Cable NG

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This article was first published on 11th April 2020


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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