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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Communities Must Be Sensitized On How To Access USPF, CITAD Urges FG

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The Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), has called on federal government to introduce more citizen approach in order to sensitize communities on how to access universal service provision fund (USPF).
CITAD Community Network Coordinator, Haruna Adamu Hadejia, made the call at a news conference held on Wednesday in Kano.
He also urged Media and CSOs to promote sensitization on the role of USPF and how communities can access such digital support.
According to him USPF is meant to receive and keep safe, all financial contributions made operating service providers in the country and to support community initiatives such as the Community Network projects.
“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 settlements.”
“The need for community networks in the country is timely because of the increasing number of identified settlements or communities that are yet to be connected or are partly connected. This connectivity instability deprived such areas from not only making phone calls but cut-off from internet facilities such as e-medicine, e-commerce, e-banking and the rest.”
“Over the last two years, CITAD facilitated a number of activities toward promoting citizen-driven national policy for sustainably community networks in Nigeria.”
“The centre jointly organized a high-level engagement which met with the Honorable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Hon Isa Ali Pantami, advocacies to other key stakeholders such as the NCC, NITDA, partnership with service providers such as the Infratel Africa, etc all in its effort to support the process. CITAD also engaged professionals, community-based organizations to support the process.  However, the blockages or rather, inadequate encouragement from key angles to sustainably support the process remain an issue.”
“While acknowledging that licensed service providers in the country remit their taxes to support citizen’s services, CITAD would specifically like to remind NCC to come up with regulatory frameworks for community networks, including no fee for licensing as is done in other African countries such as Kenya for its citizens.”
“We call on the universal service provision fund (USPF) to make its receipts from Service Providers open through periodic publication of the proceeds received.”
According to CITAD, “The USPF should proactively conduct an up-to-date community mapping with a view to identify “real and existing” digitally disadvantaged locations across the country and USPF should provide support to micro-organizations to set up their community networks.”
“USPF should support organizations/communities to pay the registration charges of up to NGN500, 000 with the NCC which remain quite unaffordable for many communities in Nigeria.”
NITDA should 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.
‘’CITAD would like to encourage the working Journalists to double your support on what CITAD is doing especially on the series of advocacies conducted under the community networks, through program, news and other methods.’’

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