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Digital Divide: CITAD Partners APC for Deployment of Network to Abuja Communities

At least four neglected communities, Leleyi Gwari, Dakwa, Tungan-Ashere  and Paseppa in Kwali,  Abuja Municipal Area Council(AMAC) and Bwari Area Councils of Abuja, Nigeria capital city, grappling with network challenges will soon hive a sigh of relief.

The hard to reach communities suffering from government neglect especially in the area of basic social amenities are to benefit from the Community Network Project being implemented by CITAD with support from the Association of Progressive Communications(APC).
APC is a global network of civil society organisations that promotes the empowerment of citizens through ICT, and advocates access to a free and open Internet, in respect of human rights and freedoms in the online space.
The intervention is part of CITAD's community-led approach to addressing the digital divide in Nigeria.
As part of the project,  CITAD  which is committed to the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the development and promotion of good governance, embarked on a sensitization workshop for stakeholders in the Leleyi Gwari community in Kwali Area Council on Friday to educate them about
Cross-section of participants at the sensitization workshop held on Friday at Leleyi Gwari community in Abuja.
the project, importance and benefit of the community networks among other things. The workshop had among others participants in attendance, religious leaders, youth representatives, women and traditional rulers.
Participants were educated about the Community Networks Project,  community network, services community Networks and the benefits of community network via PowerPoint slide presentations anchored by CITAD  Technical Officers, Suhail Abdullahi and Salim Shehu who took time to discuss extensively with the participants.
 The duo further explained to participants the process involved in starting a community Network, facilities and infrastructure involved, regulatory conditions required, the process of linking the Communities and also discussed were the issues of sustainability of the project.
  offered contributions.
The Highpoints of the workshop was a question and answer session during which participants were allowed to ask questions bothering their minds on the subject to which answers were provide by the presenters and other CITAD representatives present.
Participants were also allowed to make their contributions after the presentations.
Speaking with the media after the workshop, one of the Technical Officer,  Suhail  Abubakar explained that CITAD was partnering with the Association of Progressive Communication(APC) on the project to provide seamless access to the network in some hard-to-reach communities at affordable cost.

CITAD Technical Officer,  Suhail  Abubakar during the media interview
He said the sensitization workshop was to garner the support of the community as part of  CITAD's community-led approaches to addressing the digital divide in Nigeria project.
Abubakar observed that network problem has become a course for serious concern for many communities with increasing challenges in accessing services such as voice call, text message, and internet access due to lack of community networks. 
"The reason we are here today is to sensitize the community about the gap they are having in the area of network connection. Even when we arrived at this community it became an issue for us because we could not communicate with people outside here freely anymore. After all, there is no network."
"CITAD is partnering with foreign donors and Association for Progressive Communication to deploy networks into these communities so that they can have easy access to network services for progress in their economy, education, health and other sectors, " he said.
He disclosed that the network community project has already been implemented in other communities in the country like Jama'are and Itas in Bauchi state. This was as he called on Nigerians and organizations to leverage the community network technology to develop their communities.
While responding to the gesture in an interview with our correspondent, the village head of Leleyi Gwari Community,  Yusuf Sarki expressed his delight at the initiative which he believed will put an end to the network changes facing his community.
"I'm very  happy because before now members of my community could not make calls without hitches." "If we want to make calls, we will have to move around looking for a place where we can get little network but, since CITAD is bringing the network here, all these problems will come to an end. so I'm very happy about this project," said Sarki.
The village head of Leleyi Gwari Community,  Yusuf Sarki  responding to the gesture
Apart from making calls, the village head said when deployed the network facility will help the villagers to be able to make use of the computers in our ICT centre deployed in the community by CITAD with support from ActionAid Nigeria.
"Our children will no longer have to go to neighbouring towns or move out of the community to make calls, send text messages or use the cyber cafe for registration and other activities as they can now do all these in the comfort of their homes," he said.
The village head said the community has benefitted greatly from the ICT centres deployed years ago by CITAD and Actionaid Nigeria which has helped their children build their computer skills and in WAEC, NECO and JAMB registrations.
" If the network is deployed, it will help our children more in this area," he added.

The ICT Centre deployed in Leleyi Gwari community by CITAD with support from Actionaid Nigeria
He appreciates the organization for the intervention and appealed to donors and other NGOs to assist them in the area of electricity supply.
Speaking on behalf of the women, the community Women Leader, Halima Adamu also expressed joy over the project. 
Adamu who was happy that the community was considered for the intervention, said the network project will benefit their children greatly in their businesses, school and other areas because communication is key and at the centre of development.
She said: "Since there's no good road, vehicles cannot  come to the village and cost of biking is high so with the network, our children will help us to advertise our farm produce on the  internet to attract customers who will come down to us here in the village and buy from us and  we  can make calls for people to come down and take their goods."

The Women Leader in Leleyi Gwari,  Halima Adamu also expressed joy over the project. 
The Youth leader, Sagir Samari also said youths in the community have benefitted immensely from the ICT programme and capacity building of CITAD and Actionaid Nigeria.
He said with the deployment of the network facilities, youths in the community will be able to make adequate use of the ICT centre in the community for personal development and to enhance their education and learning.

Some of the participants in a group photo with CITAD representatives after the sensitization workshop

Credit: Report compiled by Josephine Ejeh

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