By Prince Osuagwu
A major interface between the general public and the government on modalities to achieve ICT for all in Nigeria, would commence this week, in Ibadan Oyo state.
The Ibadan meeting which is at the instance of the Universal Service Provision Fund, USPF, is one in a series of consultation programme which the USPF said would provide platform to benefit the rural communities with affordable communications services.
The consultation shifts to Yola the following week even as other such consultations will hold in the remaining geo_political zones of the country subsequently.
Tagged Stakeholders Consultation Forum and Capacity Building, the Consultation series, according to Mr. Okoh Aihe, Head Corporate Services, USPF, are intended to afford various stakeholders – beneficiaries of USPF projects, financial institutions, ICT Entrepreneurs, Community-based organisations, opinion leaders, network operators and other development partners – opportunities to suggest ways of improving implementation of ICT programmes of USPF.
The interface is a major quest by the Fund to actualize its vision of â€œICT Access for allâ€ as well as meet the objectives of the Federal Government on ICT access to the unreached and disadvantaged people in far_flung parts of the country.
Particularly for the importance of USPF in taking ICT access to the mass of the people, the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) has jumped on board to help build capacity in the ICT sector.Â Thus the Consultation will provide channels for frank talks and above all, learning in order to take USPF to a new level of performance.
Among speakers to headline the Consultation fora are: Engr Ernest Ndukwe, Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Dr. Ekwow Spio_Garbrah, the CTO Chief Executive, and Secretary to the Fund, Mr. Fayomi.
Among issues to be tackled are: Presentation of USPF Mandate and Strategic Plan 2007 â€“ 2011, Key Issues impacting Rural Connectivity, Rural Connectivity Finance, Financial Models for Rural Connectivity, Appropriate Technologies for Rural Communities Off_the_grid, Available Rural Connectivity Solutions, and a host of other issues.
While explaining that USPF was prepared to hear from representatives of selected communities who will speak about their community needs and priorities in ICTs, Okoh maintained that information received from the Forum will help these communities to better articulate those needs.
He therefore appealed that Nigerians should take advantage of the Consultations series to come out with more creative ways that can help USPF to be more relevant to the country, especially to Nigerians in local communities.