The Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) says, the need for community networks in Nigeria is crucial due to the increasing number of unconnected or partially connected settlements or communities.
Community Networks Officer of the center Malam Haruna AdaHadejia made the statement today at a press briefing on the need for USPF to support digitally disadvantaged communities for sustainable community Networks in Nigeria.
The center said, lack of connectivity deprives these areas of essential services such as phone calls, e-medicine, e-commerce, e-banking, and many other opportunities.
CITAD called on Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) to make the receipts from service providers open through periodic publication to ensure transparency in service provision.
”The USPF should also conduct up-to-date community mapping to identify digitally disadvantaged locations in Nigeria”
”Micro-organizations should receive support from the USPF to set up community networks, and the registration charges of up to NGN500,000 with the NCC should be made more affordable for many communities”
CITAD has been actively involved in promoting citizen-driven national policies for sustainable community networks in Nigeria over the past two years.
”CITAD has facilitated various activities, including high-level engagements with key stakeholders such as the Honorable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Hon Isa Ali Pantami, as well as advocacy efforts with the NCC, NITDA, and partnership with service providers like Infratel Africa, among others”
However, the center said, despite these efforts, there have been challenges and inadequate support from key angles to sustain the process.
”CITAD would like to highlight the importance of regulatory frameworks for community networks, including waiving licensing fees as done in other African countries like Kenya for the benefit of citizens”.
The NCC should also provide support to community networks by covering the license fees and providing backhaul infrastructure for their use, urging the Minister of Communications to empower a committee to swiftly develop a national policy for community networks.
CITAD also encourages Galaxy Backbone PLC to provide communities with access to its backbone for use as community network breakouts.
”The USPF should also support the upgrading of existing digital centers in various locations across the country to serve as the foundation for community networks in passionate communities. NITDA should work with grassroots communities to drive digital literacy, which is essential for effective utilization of digital technology and the country’s digital transformation agenda.
CITAD also urges civil society organizations (CSOs) to sustain evidence-based advocacy for the establishment of community networks nationwide.
‘”The USPF should introduce a citizen-centric approach to sensitize communities on how to access the fund’s support, and the media and other CSOs should promote sensitization on the role of USPF and how communities can access digital support”
It then, appreciates the support of working journalists and encourages them to continue supporting CITAD’s efforts through programs, news coverage, and other methods, especially in the area of community networks advocacy.