To residents living in the little town of Tobolo, situated in Egbado North of Ogun State, Nigeria, being giving the ability able to communicate with other people outside their community using their mobile devices, is a life-transforming experience.
Rasheed Alase, a member of the village who was on the verge of relocating to Lagos because he felt his life could be more, says he no longer has any reason to leave. Last year, Huawei, a global ICT infrastructure provider, in partnership with telecommunications giant, MTN, deployed a joint project known as RuralStar 2.0 which provides a low-cost long-distance voice and mobile broadband services for remote rural areas in Nigeria, helping to connect the unconnected. The project reduces the TCO by 50 per cent for a given target coverage area in contrast with traditional site solutions.
Using a low-band NLOS LTE Relay, it allows site deployment locations to change from high towers to low poles with a height of only 12 meters, reducing the site infrastructure construction cost by 70 per cent. By so doing, communities like Tobolo can be connected and become part of the digital revolution.
Zhang Lulu, managing director, Huawei Technologies Company Nigeria Limited, said during a media parley in Lagos that connectivity and not adoption was a bigger problem. Mobile adoption is increasing according to data from NCC however connectivity remains a challenge.
“Since starting operations in Nigeria in 1999, Huawei has been working with local operators to provide safe stable and high-quality communication networks in the country,” Lulu noted.
As a result of many ICT initiatives, Lulu said Huawei is covering about half of the population in Nigeria. This feat could have implications to the growth of new skills required to power the digital economy. The company estimates that about 90 per cent of jobs in the future Nigeria is headed for will require digital skills.
Hence, apart from increased connectivity, Huawei has also invested in building skills at all levels of the society by working with universities and other partners to foster ICT talents and training ICT practitioners. The company said it has trained more than 20,000 ICT engineers who have become the main workforce to guarantee the network running of Nigeria. Currently, the company has engaged over 40 Nigerian universities to establish its Huawei Authorised Information and Network Academy (HAINA) and provide industrially recognised ICT certification in subjects including networks, routing and switching.
Sharing his experience at the event, Muhammad Maihaja, one of the three students who won the first prize in Huawei ICT competition and will be representing Nigeria at the global finals in China, described the competition as a life changer which has given him a great opportunity to learn cutting-edge technologies.
“The Huawei ICT competition has made me go beyond what I knew. This platform has given Nigerian youths opportunities to showcase their talents in ICT on a continental and global level, which is good for the future of the development of ICT in Nigeria. ”said Maihaja.
Reports show that the adoption of communication technology has grown all over Nigeria, with over 80 per cent of the citizens already covered by communication networks, thereby facilitating better lives and giving rise to broader economic activities.