President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, launched a national emergency toll-free number for Nigerians and other residents.

The number is 112.

Premium Times reports that the president also unveiled the national broadband policy for 2020 to 2025, communication and digital economy complex, national digital innovation and entrepreneurship training.

“The toll-free free number, 112, has demonstrated our resolve to keep Nigerians safe,” he said.

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Mr Buhari said the emergency number would create easy access to Nigerians especially those in remote areas.

The president said the digital economy would also support in fighting corruption through the utilisation of digital services.

“Digital economies have become a useful platform for diversification, we have to recognise them,” he said.

“The dwindling price of crude oil has affected our budgetary projections and it has increased our sense of urgency with regards to the diversification of the economy,” Mr Buhari said.

“We have to recognise the benefits of these technologies. The ministry has since developed a digital economy strategy with the realisation of a digital Nigeria which we agreed on last year.”

The Nigerian Communications Commission, in December 2019, established the emergency number as a measure towards tackling the emerging security challenges in the country.

Nigerians and other residents in the country can use the shortcode to seek help in times of distress and emergency.

The number will provide a one-stop-shop for receiving distress calls from the public and dispatching the same to appropriate response agencies (“First Responders”) who will respond to the needs of the callers.

The response agencies include the police, road safety (FRSC), fire service, ambulance service, etc.

Mr Buhari said, “We are also aware of the mechanism that has been put in place for its implementation. The plan is also expected to support our objective of deploying 4G across the country.”

“The federal government is aware of the challenges the operators face, challenges from vandalisation and we are committed to ensure that all stakeholders have a conducive environment to ensure the successful implementation of the broadband plan.”

He directed the minister of communications and digital economy to work with all relevant agencies to ensure that the nation’s critical infrastructures are protected.

“We have taken advantage of digital technology to ensure that Nigerians in distress are only a dial away from the relevant emergency institutions,” he said.

The executive vice-chairman of NCC, Umar Sankara, said the National Broadband Plan in Nigeria has increased from six per cent to 38.49 per cent since 2015.

“It is important to mention that at the time this government came into power in 2015, broadband penetration was only 6%. Today it stands at 38.49%,” he said.

He said the statistics of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) also indicate that for every 10% increase in broadband, there is a corresponding GDP growth of 1.3%.

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