By Prince Osuagwu
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has said that the major reason behind setting up over 228 Rural Information Technology Centres, RITCs across the nation was to boost internet penetration, particularly in rural areas. NITDA also said that the effort would not only spur Internet usage but make Nigerians digital citizens.
The agency added that it was why many of the RITCs are located in the rural areas of the country so that both the un-served and under-served areas of the country would be connected, in line with the country’s Millennium Development Goals .
The RITCs were established between 2007 and 2012 in all the geopolitical zones and the agency plans to take the RITCs to all the 774 local government headquarters of the country in the years ahead.
NITDA said at the weekend that over 116 of the RITCs were located in the Northern part of the country, while about 112 have been established in the Southern part of the country.
According to the Director General of the NITDA, Professor Cleopas Angaye , the deployment of RITCs across the Nation is part of Millennium Development Goals and NITDA’s target objective of providing Internet access to the undeserved communities.
He described the RITCs, as government’s response to the clamour for the provision of access to the rural populace across Nigeria and making them an integral part of the new global economy driven by ICT.
Angaye said: “Nigerians who reside in the rural communities cannot be neglected in any meaningful citizen-centred programme.
The deployment of the RITCs has contributed in boosting Internet usage from 2,418,679 users in 2005 to an estimated number of about 10 million users in 2008 and over 44 million internet users in 2012, thereby, positioning Nigeria as one of the fastest growing internet users in sub-Saharan Africa” he added.
It is expected that Internet users will reach 70 million by 2015 and NITDA hopes that the various RITCs being deployed across the nation will help push the level of usage in the years ahead..
Meanwhile, NITDA said it was also pursuing two ICT incubation centres to facilitate software development in the country. The centres are to be in Lagos and Cross River State. The incubation centres are expected to create up to 25 successful ICT businesses by 2015.