The Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), has called on the government at all levels to provides for community networks in various localities to enhance digital inclusion for all in the country.
The call was made by the Executive Director of the center, Y. Z Ya’u on Tuesday during a press conference tagged ‘The need for policy directions on community networks’, which held at the center’s board room in Kano.
He said the centre finds it necessary to made the recommendation for the community networks as a result of the effects of the recent lockdown brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He added that many communities could not access their schools and healthcare services despite the opportunities online due to poor or absence of networks.
He opined that the commercial telecoms companies in the country could not invest in rural areas because there is no market there, urging that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) should provide for free community networks to bridge the gap and enhance inclusion.
“In its report of 2019, the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) identified 114 connectivity gaps in the country as either underserved or unserved. It defines underserved area “as an area where less than 50% of the households or individual users have access to a minimum of 1.5 Mbit/s” while it defines unserved communities as “area where less than 10% of households and individual users have either no access to internet or have the most basic access such as EDGE,” the director has said.
He added that “Although the telecommunication sector in Nigeria is one of the fastest growing, there are still many people who are left behind.
“Statistics show that as at “September 2020, Nigeria has 205,252,058 active telephone lines, 107% teledensity, 151,512,122 active internet subscription, and 86,714,978 broadband subscription representing 45.43% of the population,” he added.
The centre recommended that the NCC should come up with an appropriate policy that will encourage the flourishing of community networks in the country as means to hasten digital inclusion in Nigeria, adding that it should be license-free.
It also called on the USPF to support community networks initiatives across the country as part of its intervention to promote faster inclusion progress.