CSO urges FG to develop, implement acceptable national policy on community networks
A Civil Society Organisation, (CSO) Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) has urged the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Professor Ali Isa Pantami, to develop and fully implement an acceptable and citizens driven National Policy on Community Networks.
The coordinator, CITAD, Community Network Project, Haruna Adamu Hadeja, made this call on Wednesday at a news conference in Kano.
According to him, for the past two years, CITAD has been engaging the policy makers especially the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, the telecommunication regulators, 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.
“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.”
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“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.”
“CITAD would specifically like to 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.”
“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 centers 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 added that “while CITAD will continue to partner with all relevant stakeholders in the telecoms industry, there is 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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