La­gos State, ATC to Boost Youth Em­pow­er­ment with Dig­i­tal Vil­lages

THISDAY - - BUSINESS WORLD NEWS - Emma Okonji

ATC Nige­ria, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the La­gos State Em­ploy­ment Trust Fund and Job­ber­man, is de­ploy­ing dig­i­tal vil­lages across La­gos that will serve as In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Tech­nol­ogy (ICT) skills ac­qui­si­tion cen­tre, de­signed for youth em­pow­er­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to ATC Nige­ria, ac­cess to the in­ter­net is widely seen as a hu­man right in the eyes of mil­lions of peo­ple around the world. The in­ter­net has evolved to a point where peo­ple see in­ter­net ac­cess as vi­tal for them to ex­er­cise their rights to free­dom of ex­pres­sion and other fun­da­men­tal hu­man rights such as ed­u­ca­tion.

The com­pany how­ever de­cried the lim­ited in­ter­net ac­cess avail­able to Nige­ria, es­pe­cially its youths that are mul­ti­task­ing and are in need of in­ter­net as­sess for in­no­va­tion in the dig­i­tal era.

It said in spite of the many ben­e­fits of the in­ter­net, its reach in Nige­ria and Africa re­mains lim­ited. “Cost, scal­a­bil­ity, power out­ages and ed­u­ca­tional bar­ri­ers are only some of the chal­lenges fac­ing the mass roll out of in­ter­net in Africa. Al­though Nige­ria is ranked as Africa’s high­est in­ter­net user, it’s youths still find it dif­fi­cult to have ubiq­ui­tous and cheap in­ter­net ac­cess.”

Cit­ing the Nige­rian Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion’s (NCC) fig­ure on the num­ber of in­ter­net users, which is put at 98.3 mil­lion as at Novem­ber 2017, ATC Nige­ria said ap­prox­i­mately 50 per cent Nige­ri­ans do not have ac­cess to In­ter­net, when com­pared with the 98 mil­lion Nige­rian pop­u­la­tion. Those that have ac­cess to the in­ter­net, pay heav­ily to have in­ter­net ac­cess, which in­vari­ably slows their rate of in­no­va­tion, ATC said, adding that it was the rea­son why it de­cided to de­ploy dig­i­tal vil­lages across the coun­try, be­gin­ning with La­gos, in part­ner­ship with La­gos State Em­ploy­ment Trust Fund (LSETF) and Job­ber­man, to en­able Nige­rian youths have ac­cess to skills devel­op­ment cen­tre that is equipped with in­ter­net ac­cess.

To ad­dress the chal­lenge, ATC Nige­ria is lever­ag­ing its com­mu­ni­ca­tions in­fra­struc­ture in an in­no­va­tive way by cre­at­ing what the com­pany refers to as “Dig­i­tal Vil­lages,” near its com­mu­ni­ca­tions tower sites.

Dig­i­tal Vil­lages are retro­fit­ted steel ship­ping con­tain­ers equipped with work sta­tions to ac­com­mo­date twelve com­put­ers and equip­ment such as scan­ners, pho­to­copiers and pro­jec­tors.

Dig­i­tal Vil­lages utilise the un­in­ter­rupted power sup­ply and broad­band link from ATC Nige­ria’s tower sites to pro­vide host com­mu­ni­ties with free ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing in ICT and en­trepreneur­ship.

They also sup­port the on­go­ing ef­forts of the fed­eral and var­i­ous state gov­ern­ments to pro­vide youth devel­op­ment and em­pow­er­ment schemes for in­di­gent youth and young grad­u­ates, and en­able com­mu­ni­ties to ac­cess gov­ern­ment e-ser­vices, help­ing im­prove the ef­fi­ciency of vi­tal gov­ern­ment programmes.

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