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Ensuring efficient digital infrastructure in Nigeria: The PPP imperative

Muhammed Bello Abubakar

Digital economy sector has continued its trend of playing a critical role in the growth of Nigeria’s economy. BENJAMIN SAMSON in this report examines how Galaxy Backbone is championing efficient deployment of digital infrastructure in Nigeria through Public-Private Partnership (PPP).

Recent figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that the Information and Communication (ICT) sector contributed 18.44% to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product in the second quarter of 2022.

At the base of this growth is the digital infrastructure provided by Galaxy Backbone Limited (GBB): An integrated ICT services and solutions provider established in 2006 by the federal government of Nigeria.

It has over the years positioned its digital infrastructure platform to enable private businesses and government establishments alike to power their operations in real-in time and on demand.

Created to help the government strategically deploy and manage its IT infrastructure and operations to advance towards becoming a fully digitized government; it has a vision to be a leading enabler of digital inclusion in Africa and the mandate to drive initiatives for digital inclusion in the public sector, underserved areas, and other stakeholder communities.

2022 ICTEL Expo

Significantly, one of the ways to ensure efficient deployment and utilization of digital infrastructure for economic development is through Public, Private Partnership (PPP). This among other things necessitated the 2022  ICTEL Expo and Exhibition, put together by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce with the theme; “Ensuring Efficient Digital Infrastructure in Nigeria”.

 The aims of the Expo was to create a platform to engage in robust discussions on the government’s plans to grow the Nigerian Digital Economy and improve e-governance; provide a holistic view of the ICT and Telecom Industry, with visibility on trends and innovations; provide networking opportunities for players in the ICT and Telecoms sectors and provide the opportunity for an enriching learning experience, connecting with investors and employers of labor among other.

Digital transformation

In his goodwill message, the Managing Director/CEO of Galaxy Backbone, Professor Muhammed Bello Abubakar, represented by Group Head Business Development Dauda Oyeleye,  while acknowledging the Lagos  Chamber of Commerce as being a platform for the promotion of trade and industry in Nigeria and across sub – saharan Africa, said Galaxy Backbone has in the last few years played an active role in the Digital Transformation journey of Nigeria as championed by the Honourable Minister of Communications & Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami.

Professor Abubakar said, “In the past two years, the world and indeed our nation Nigeria has experienced extraordinary times. The amount of data generated across public and private organisations and individuals alike, have created new opportunities and experiences still to be well documented and explored. The Digital world was accelerated in 2020 during the pandemic, so today we have a lot of transactions going into billions of dollars beginning and ending across different digital platforms and in that way, a lot of data is being generated. This Data has to be securely stored somewhere and backed-up as well to ensure and prevent unforeseen circumstances. Organisations must continue to devise innovative ways to store and back up their data to ensure business continuity.

“Galaxy Backbone like you know is the Digital Infrastructure and shared services platform for public and private organizations. We are playing an active role in the Digital Transformation journey of Nigeria being championed by the Honourable Minister of Communications & Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami. We are proud of the investment and the work we have done and continue to do in ensuring that the backbone and network infrastructure that is powering Nigeria’s Digital Economy is secure, available and efficient.”

Public-Private Partnership

He added that the doors of Galaxy Backbone are open for partnership with government and private organisations in order to maximize its rich digital infrastructure and support the advancement of trade and industry in Nigeria.

“Our world class Tier III Datacentre and soon to be launched Tier IV Datacentre for Cloud and Disaster Recovery purposes is available for everyone and sometime later today, we will take a deep dive into its huge potential for Nigerian Small & Medium Size businesses, Enterprises and the government.

“Once again, I would like to let the President, Director General, Members of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and all the distinguished guests seated here today know that Galaxy Backbone is very glad to work with you and support the cause towards the advancement of trade and industry in our nation. This is because we believe that this is what drives the development and growth of any economy. As we evolve as an organization, we are aware of the need to establish great partners who would work with us in line with our vision of being the leading enabler of Digital inclusion in Africa.

“We are very clear in our minds that we cannot succeed on our own, hence we are determined to collaborate with organisations and platforms like yours in advancing the goals and objectives of our respective organisations. With ICT today contributing almost 19% to our nation’s GDP and the realities of our vibrant and energetic young population of innovative tech entrepreneurs spanning out from different parts of this city of Lagos and across the country and the realities of our growing digital economy, we are poised as an organization to reposition ourselves and advance the growth and prosperity of our nation. And what better way to do this, that to support what the Lagos Chamber of Commerce is doing.

“I would like to emphasise that it is important that we all keep working together towards creating effective and productive Digital Infrastructures that will power and propel our nation’s Digital Economy. We are hopeful that in a short time, we will be listed as one of the most advanced digital economies operating out of Africa,” he said.

Government role in PPP

Similarly, in his presentation at the Expo, Professor Abubakar highlighted the efforts of the federal government, through the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, to provide an enabling environment for businesses and innovations to thrive in order to stimulate growth of Nigeria’s digital economy.

He said, “In recent times, the government has accelerated its intervention through various policies such as: National Digital Economy Policy & Strategy (NDEPS), the National Broadband Plan and its Implementation and E-Government Master Plan

“Galaxy Backbone has focused primarily on making available Solid and Service Infrastructure (2 pillars of NDEPs) one area that can help create platforms for other local ICT companies, original equipment manufacturers and organizations from the private and public sector dealing with a lot of data and several other ICT requirements

“This is why Galaxy Backbone has continued its drive to provide digital infrastructure platforms that both public and private organizations can leverage.”

Galaxy Backbone’s role in PPP

Likewise, he said Galaxy Backbone has made considerable efforts to position itself at the forefront of the PPP imperative, focusing on improving and making more collaborations rather than having competitions.

He noted that Galaxy Backbone has done a deep dive into adopting this process.

“Partnership increases the company’s efficiency and strength by supplementing our capacities and further building on our vision of digital inclusion for the whole of Africa.

“As a Government agency, we play our part in ensuring efficient digital infrastructure for Nigerians with strategic partnerships and engagements.

“To further solidify our stand on PPP we at Galaxy Backbone have created an Enterprise Business Group (EBG) who have been tasked with the sole responsibility of managing private customers as well as structured partnerships.

“We have established partnerships with OEMs, Managed Service Providers, Real Estates Developers, as well as other local organizations to reach the goal of attaining a digital Nigeria

“Our state-of-the-art infrastructure has been instrumental in sealing these deals and the partnerships just keep getting better,” he said.

Galaxy Backbone’s digital infrastructure

The Managing Director/CEO, noted that Galaxy Backbone’s digital infrastructure platforms that will drive the Public-Private Partnership are internet connectivity, data center infrastructure and unified communications.

According to him, Galaxy Backbone also has a pervasive Fibre connectivity network across the nation, which the private sector can key into.

He said the organization is presently partnering with Real Estates to provide Fibre to the home in Abuja, adding that it provides the Last Mile Fibre for free, and the subscribers only need to pay for subscription.

“Our Data Centre Network is underpinned with layered connectivity that comprises Backbone Network, Metro Network and Access Network,” he said.

4G eLTE wireless penetration

Speaking further, Professor Abubakar said Galaxy Backbone has several eLTE Base Stations across the country to deepen its connectivity reach via wireless technology.

“Galaxy Backbone has partnered with resellers in the Private Sector to deliver this service to their customers at a reduced cost,” he said.

He added that Galaxy Backbone operates state-of-the-art Data centre infrastructure for the provision of secure and available Data centre services across the nation.

While calling on the private sector to always reach out for partnerships in this area, he disclosed that the centre provides the hosting and colocation platform for software/applications and hardware services organizations in the private sector to leverage on.

Unique partnership

Professor Abubakar gave a practical example of how Galaxy Backbone is helping to redefine virtual collaboration within and across the nation via its Unified Communication Service through partnerships.

“As part of Galaxy Backbone’s drive to engage in profitable relationships with strategic partners, Galaxy Backbone has recently partnered with NewWaves Ecosystem Limited to provide customers with an indigenous solution named Conn3ct, a web-based audio and video conferencing application used for real-time communication and collaboration,” he said.

Strengthening confidence

Galaxy Backbone has taken steps to secure public confidence in the use of its Digital Infrastructures, through trusted international third-party attestations, such as: BSI certification to ISO 27001  Information Security Management System standards  in 2012, BSI certification to ISO 20000 IT Service Management standards in 2017, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard Certification PCI DSS (2019), 1st Place Winner of 2013 United Nations Public Service Award for “Promoting Whole of Government Approach to Technology”, Uptime Institute Certification for Tier 3 Data Centre, 2018 and Ongoing Business Continuity Certification to ISO 22301.

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