Galaxy Backbone Limited (GBB) has stepped up its drive to country-wide service roll out. GBB in collaboration with Interra Networks, has officially launched internet connectivity service provider (ISP) codenamed STORM.ng, for the benefit of the South East and South South regions of the country.
The STORM.ng ISP project under the Nigeria National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Infrastructure Backbone (NICTIB) Phase I was launched in Enugu State today, Tuesday, July 6, 2021, by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami.
Recall that Galaxy Backbone had deployed fibre optics across 17 major cities across the Federation as part of the first phase of NICTIB.
With today’s launch Galaxy Backbone and Interra Networks through STORM, an Internet Service Provider, will cover Enugu, Ebonyi, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Awka, Onitsha and Asaba under its National FIbre Roll Out programme.
In his keynote address at the event, Dr. Pantami, expressed delight with the unveiling of STORM as a fibre connectivity and Digital Services platform powered by GBB which aligns with the vision of the present administration.
The Minister said that STORM.ng will open up massive opportunities for corporates, small businesses and for homes looking to improve the quality of internet services in the regions.
In his words, Dr. Pantami said: “I would like to congratulate Galaxy Backbone and its project partners for achieving this great feat which provides a platform to deliver fast and efficient Internet and Hosting services for the South-East and South-South region of the country.
“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) (2020-20230) with the clear vision ‘to transform Nigeria into a leading Digital Economy providing quality life and digital economies for all’, and a mission to ‘build a nation where digital innovation and entrepreneurship are used to create value and prosperity for all’”.
The STORM initiative, he said, is in line with the National Digital Economy Policy for a Digital Nigeria (2020 – 2030).
“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 and a 10% increase in broadband penetration can lead to growth in Gross Domestic Product in the region of 0.6 to 2.8%.
“Furthermore, the use of broadband technology goes beyond facilitating socialization. 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 then to extend their services beyond their physical locations through the use of e-commerce platforms”, he said.
STORM, Dr. Pantami added, is a significant milestone in support of the Federal Government’s efforts to accelerate broadband penetration across cities and underserved communities, adding that it will support government’s effort in meeting the target of the NNBP, which aims to achieve a 90% broadband penetration by 2025.
He said that Nigeria is endowed with enormous potentials, and “it is my belief that Digital Services will expand and strengthen the development of these potentials. I therefore encourage us to work together to ensure that we expand the wealth and prosperity of our nation.
He congratulated the team from GBB and Interra Network team for putting the launch together.
“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. A 2021 Report by Statista shows that Nigeria had over 154 million internet users in 2020, the largest in the whole of Africa, followed by Egypt with 54.74 million users”, the Minister said.
Earlier, the Managing Director/CEO, Galaxy Backbone, Prof. Mohammed Abubakar, said that the plan to launch the project in year 2020 was aborted by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
He, however, expressed optimisms that with the official launch of STORM, GBB and its partner – Interra Networks – are ready to unleash broadband services to organizations and homes in South East and South South regions.
“Now, 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 us 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 Technologies has taken centre stage especially in Nigeria where we have noted its great contribution to the GDP of our country in the last quarter of the year 2020. Projections continue to show an upward movement in this even in this year 2021.
“We are not unmindful of the strides recorded by most of our competitors in this industry. However, 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.
We know that we cannot build an agile organisation or respond to the realities of this new world, without meeting your expectations in real time and at all times”.
The MD/CEO added that STORM will bridge the notable gaps in the market in terms of reliable internet service.
Speaking on ‘Partnering to serve: The Storm Value Proposition”, the President/CEO, Interra Networks, Mr. David Onu, said that the service launched today will enable greater youth participation in technology and digital economy drives.
According to him, “ICT is considered to be the new oil worldwide and it is very interesting to see that just 15 year ago, the top six companies where 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 Mobile.
“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”.
Mr. Onu, however bemoaned the misnomer in Nigeria which is excessive reliance on natural resources “whereas our biggest strength has been our 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 been used Africa-wide and worldwide and we haven’t even started.
He hinged the launch of STORM on the harnessing the capacity of young people and businesses in the regions to boost the economy.
Dignitaries present at the event include 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; Director of ICT, Delta State Ministry of Science and Technology, Rocky Ighoyota; Group Head, Regional Offices, Galaxy Backbone, Abdul-Malik Suleiman; Head – Galaxy Head, Regional Business & Operations, Galaxy Backbone (Lagos and South West), Tope Dele-Oni and among others.