Nigeria deepens emergency communication centres nationwide

Twenty-three Emergency Communications Centres (ECCs) have been commissioned in some states of the federation, while 13 others are underway and to be achieved by 2022.

Dr Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, made the disclosure on Monday at the Batch 10 Launching of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) projects in Abuja.

The launching of the projects, which held virtually, was in line with the Digital Economy agenda 2020 to 2030 and President Muhammadu Buhari’s target to fight corruption, transform the economy and ensure security.

The projects launched were the National Policy on Virtual Engagements in the Federal Public Institutions, ECC Akure, Ondo State, and Digital Economy Centre (DEC), Federal University, Gashua, Yobe State.

Others were DEC, Delta State University, Abraka and DEC, Government Secondary School, Rigasa (Main), Kaduna State.

Pantami explained that the National Policy on Virtual Engagements, which was institutionalised in collaboration with Office of the Head of Service, was to ensure the legality of virtual meetings in public service.

He said the ECC was designed to be present in every state of the federation for emergencies and the DECs, coordinated by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), were to facilitate learning in tertiary institutions.

“In less than two years, we have commissioned around 23 emergency communications centre for over the country and we have around 13 underway.

“It is our plan to have, at least, one ECC in every state of the federation by 2022.

“These centres are very important; it is a toll free number  and if you make a call nothing will be deducted from your mobile account.

“This is to make it easier for all citizens to patronise; and which will go a long way to support citizens in emergency cases, security situations,” he said.

Pantami added that the virtual engagements had saved cost for the FG, hence the money deployed to other areas of governance.

According to him, the DECs are being equipped with computers for both students and staff, internet facilities, solar system, and in some cases backup generator for power.

“The DEC will serve as a capacity Building Centre to enable the promotion of knowledge-based economic growth, an avenue for creating jobs and providing access to information, knowledge and government enabled digital services for rural communities.

“The centre is an avenue for stimulating economic growth by creating new products, increasing productivity and promoting new commercial and administrative methods.

“The ECC project was set up to promote and enhance public safety through the use of the 112 number, designated as the Universal Safety and Emergency Assistance Number for telephone services, generally.

“It will encourage and facilitate the prompt deployment of a seamless, ubiquitous and reliable end-to-end infrastructure for emergency communications needs,” he said.

Similarly, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, Minister for States, Mines and Steel Development, noted that the ICT sector had contributed greatly to the development of the country, hence the need to create a backup policy on virtual engagements.

Also, Mr Yakubu Oseni, Senate Committee Chairman on ICT, assured that the legislative arm of government would sustain support to the ministry to ensure digital economy initiatives were achieved.