Home » CITAD sues for need to implement Community Networks by policy makers

CITAD sues for need to implement Community Networks by policy makers

by Mustapha Salisu
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By Mustapha Salisu

As part of its efforts to bridge the digital divide in Nigeria, the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) has called on all relevant stakeholders to see the need for a Citizen-Driven National Policy for Sustainable Community Networks in Nigeria.

The Centre asserts that bridging of connectivity gap in the country remains futile due to the absence of a national policy to guide their emergence and provide a supportive environment for communities to leverage.

The Centre’s Coordinator, School of Community Networks, Mal. Haruna Adamu Hadejia made the call during a press briefing on Thursday at Hall B, CITAD Office in Kano.

Adamu explained that, 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 technological advantages.

“The internal dimension of the digital divide is what we as citizens and as a country should stand to address” he noted.

The Coordinator disclosed, for the last two years, CITAD has been engaging with policymakers and other stakeholders in the country with the aim of arriving at a consensus on developing a national policy for community networks which is yet to produce a result.

“We’ve had engagements with the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other stakeholders in the country such as NITDA and Galaxy for a national policy. Yet,  with all these, the realization of such policy remains in the cooler” he laments.

Adamu however, outlined some specific requirements by CITAD on the issue of National  Policy on Community Networks as thus;

“Call on private sector operators to see community networks as complimentary not competitors and support the deployment of any accessible and affordable technology or initiative that will bridge the connectivity gap in both underserved and unserved areas in the country”

“CITAD urges the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy to develop and fully implement an acceptable and citizens-driven National Policy on Community Networks

3. Enjoin the Galaxy Backbone PLC to provide communities with access to its backbone for them to use as their community networks breakouts”

“The Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) should support the upgrading of the many communities’ digital centres already set up in various locations of the country to serve as basis of community networks for communities that are passionate to set up such in their communities”

“Demand on Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to develop guidelines and regulations for the operation of community networks in the country and to allow communities to access and use TV White Space (TVWS) for the purposes of setting up community networks” he identified

Others are “NITDA to work with communities at grassroots level to drive digital literacy which is critical for the effective utilization of digital technology and which is the foundation upon which the digital transformation agenda of the country will rest”

“Urge the CSOs to sustain evidence-based advocacy for the establishment of Community Networks across the country”

“Call on the private sector operators to as part of their corporate social responsibility support communities to set up community networks”

“Call on all other stakeholders, including political office holders to support communities to go digital as a critical contribution to community development especially on promoting issue-based campaigns” Adamu noted.

Mal Haruna revealed that, finally, while CITAD will continue to partner with all relevant stakeholders in the telecoms industry, there is a need for media to support the process by adding voice to the call to bridge the connectivity gap which contributes to the inaccessibility of service delivery to the populace.

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