The Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) has called on government at all levels to consider establishing community networks to bridge the digital divides gaps across various communities in the country.
The center in a press conference in Kano, said the call became necessary sequel to the need to have internet access in the rural areas and that lack of the network is contributing to the backwardness of the communities.
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Haruna Adamu Hadejia, community network project coordinator of the center said it is worrying that about half of Nigerians have no access to the internet, adding that in the present context, the uncertainty of the digital divide is known by Nigeria government and its agencies.
“According to government statistics, only about half of Nigerians have access to the internet. This means that within the country, an estimated population of over 100 million people is already left behind and excluded from the benefits of the internet and other technology advantages.
Thus, the internal dimension of the digital divide is what we as citizen and as a country should stand to address.
“We are all aware that, in Nigeria, as in many other countries, technology rollout is market driven which implies that, companies are willing to invest in infrastructure for connectivity only for areas where profits are assured and they are unlikely to invest in poor communities or communities that are sparsely populated that the telecommunication traffic cannot support profitably.”
While acknowledging that this is not unique to Nigeria, the center said many countries have solved the problem by deploying other models of rollout such as community networks to compliment market driven rollout.
“The bridging of connectivity gap in the country remains futile because we do not have a national policy to guide their emergence and provide a supportive environment for communities to leverage various opportunities to bridge the connectivity gaps.
“For the last two years, CITAD has been engaging the policy makers especially the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, the telecommunication regulators ie, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other stakeholders in the country such as NITDA, and Galaxy Backbone with the aim of arriving at a consensus on developing a national policy for community networks,” the center added.