In it bid to bridge gap of internet accessibility and connectivity, an organization known as Centre for Information Technology and Development, CITAD, has stressed the need for setting up of community networks in unserved and underserved communities in Nigeria in order to promote digital inclusion in the country.
The Coordinator, School of Community Network, Haruna Adamu Hadejia Stated this while briefing Journalist ,during Experience Sharing Meeting with Community Networks Micro Organizations in the state on the project supported by Association for Progressive Communications, APC through United Kingdomâ€™s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, FCDO.
He said the community network centers was piloted in the seven communities, which includes two centers in Jamaâ€™are and Itas-Gadau in rural part of Bauchi State, one centre in Kafanchan, Kaduna State and four others in Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
â€œThis is part of a global project to catalyze the flourishing of community networks as a means of connecting the unconnectedâ€
â€œThe objectives of the project are segmented at three levels as follows: To provide Business management and technical capacity development programmes to communities and their organizations for local people to start and maintain efficient networksâ€
â€œSimilarly, it is to address both accessibility and affordability gaps since most underserved communities are poor and unprofitable to the market, we need to develop low cost access models that are viable, sustainable and affordable to the poor.
Haruna Adamu maintained that the meeting will improve awareness of local, marginalised communities with regard to both potential dividends and harms generated by digital technologies through greater access to information on opportunities and risks hinders the adoption of inclusive digital access for development in many underserved communities and provision of digital literacy skills and knowledge to manage the above challenges.
â€œThe project focuses on selected locally managed community networks in three regions, Africa, Asia and Latin America, to strengthen their impact, reach and sustainability.
â€œThis group of community networks will form the core of a peer community that can connect and broaden support for community-based connectivity initiatives, nationally, regionally and internationally.
â€œThe project will achieve its objectives through peer learning and exchange, awareness raising, technical assistance, capacity building for the development of scalable, innovative and sustainable networks, policy and regulatory advocacy and community mobilisation.
â€œHowever, CITAD with support from APC in 2020 implement a project on supporting Community Led-Approach to Addressing the Digital Divide in Nigeria by establishing community networks centers across the country which aim is to work with the existing centers and also build their capacity to support policy implications.
â€œThe micro organizations can be divided into three. One category composed of those that are already experimenting with community networks. These are the Fantsuam Foundation, based in Kafanchan, a rural area of Kaduna State and the ISOC Community network which is located in Zaria, an academic and urban centre of Kaduna state. The second category are where is no network but there is a community digital centres. These are: Zoboda Women Traders Co-operative Society the third category are those in which there is internet which is relatively poor. In all but six communities, affordability is low as these are rural poor communities,â€ Hadejia stated.
Recall that a report by the Universal Service Provision Fund, USPF in 2019 identified 114 connectivity gaps in the country as either underserved and unserved hence the need for the community networks