CITAD in the News, Community Networks, Digital Inclusion

Digital Gap: Over 50% of Nigerians lack access to telecom infrastructure – Y.Z. Yau

The Executive Director, Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), Dr. Y.Z Yau has raised the alarm saying that over 50% of Nigerians do not have access to telecom infrastructure

Dr. Yau made the assertion on Monday in Abuja, during the formal launch of the Dakwa Community Digital Hub jointly built by CITAD in collaboration with Hello World Initiative, among other stakeholders.

Speaking to newsmen during the auspicious occasion, he also pointed out that over 27million Nigerians lack access to infrastructure.

“The purpose of this event is the formal launching of the Dakwa Community Hub which is a facility we jointly built with the Community, CITAD, Hello World, so that they can have access to internet in the community, and have access to online educational opportunities. Inside the Hub is a solar panel donated by one of our partners so they can continue to enjoy the service whether there is electricity or not.

“Now this is one of the communities in Nigeria where they have no access to internet. So, we are helping to ensure that that they have access to internet, and to any other persons. The UN has stated that access to internet is a right to every citizens.

“If possible the government should ensure that nobody is left behind. But we are not waiting for government. We are pushing, and we hope that we inspire other communities. We also hope that the examples that we are building government will also see and hopefully adapt to similar strategies.

“By official statistics, it says that close to 27.1 million Nigerians have no access to infrastructures. Now, this is not talking about people who cannot afford it, because you have to have some money to buy data. The 27.1 million are those people who have no infrastructure at all, even they money they can’t buy.

“So, that 27.1 million , you have to add people who are extremely poor across the country. People who have one form of disability or the other, of course we don’t ha e enough devices for them. We have to include women who have fear of internet. There are many women that fear internet because of harassment, and privacy issues. So, if you add all those women, you will end up with more than 50% of Nigerians,” Dr Yau said.

The CITAD Executive Director called on the government to key into the noble course to help bridge the wide gap between the rural communities and urban centers in terms of internet connectivity, knowledge and information.

“Absolutely we are asking government to collaborate with us. Government over the last four years has promised us. We have had meeting with the former Minister of Digital Economy, we have had meetings with the former EVC of NCC, and they all agreed that they would come out with community network policy, which up to this day they have not. So, we are calling on government to do that.

“More than that, we are calling government to learn from other experiences including what we are doing, and also what other people are doing so that we can quickly work together to address the digital gap in Nigeria,” he said.

Also speaking, the Director of Implementation and Programmes, Hello World Initiative, Komugisha Fiona Esther expressed joy over the laudable achievement of empowering the people of Dakwa immunity with the necessary digital skills and infrastructure.

She enjoined other Nigerian citizens, and stakeholders, particularly the Nigerian government to hands in brushing the digital divide in the country.

“I am very passionate making sure that the communities, especially the rural communities have access to internet and information. At Hello World, is very passionate at making sure that the last man in our rural communities have access to internet connectivity, access to information, access to digital education, and making sure that we bridge the digital divide.

“It might interest you to know that Hello World began from Nigeria. Hello World in Nigeria in 2013 because founder Katherine lived in Nigeria, she schooled in Nigeria. While in Nigeria, she discovered that there were so many things the communities do not have access to such as digital information.

“Just imagine that when you are in a community it is only a certain number of people who are getting access to the knowledge and information, and then a huge number of people who are in a certain village or community, or even next to Abuja are not having access to information. This is where Hello World began.

“So many communities in Uganda do not have access to internet connectivity, and at Hello World this is what we want to achieve so that a child from the communities who is not coming from the center of Abuja to have access to knowledge and information can we be able to close that gap?

“Secondly, we want to make sure we connect the communities to the rest of the world,” she said.

She added,” I want to call upon all of us to support the community hub. Are you passionate about supporting the communities in one way or the other. It might be an idea, it might be that you work with a company, it might be that you want to sponsor a hub. So, am calling upon us let us together and make sure that the last man or member of our communities have internet connectivity.”
One of the beneficiaries of the digital training, Sumaila Shuaibu, a youth from Dakwa Community said the training has exposed him to digital skills that would help him to take responsibility in terms of providing internet connectivity for his community.

He expressed hope that in the nearest future he would use the knowledge to extend help to other communities around his environment who do not access to this kind of training.

The Traditional Ruler of Dakwa Community, Chief Shuaibu Samu thanked CITAD, Hello World, and other partners for coming their aide. He also appealed that the same should be extended to other neighbouring communities.

He said,”I don’t have anything to say, but I want to say that am grateful to CITAD, and Hello World for helping my community. Also, the rest other six communities that are remaining, let them get it also.”

The traditional ruler assured that the community has concluded plans to ensure the digital hub built by CITAD, Hello World and other partners are secured.

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