By Abbas Bolanle
Lagos. July 21, 2012: Nigeria has parked Mobile Internet Units (MIUs), motorized cyber centres used to drive internet awareness as a vehicle for promoting diffusion into rural and underserved areas, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has told Technology Times.
Director-General, NITDA, Cleopas Angaye, said in an exclusive interview with Technology Times in Lagos that the decision was taken to jettison the MIU option was due to skyrocketing cost of internet bandwidth for the project.
In its place of the mobile option, NITDA has been building Rural Information Technology Centre (RITC) projects hoped to provide internet access to undeserved communities.
Angaye attributed the non-sustainability of the mobile alternatives to high bandwidth cost among other factors for parking the multi-million naira vehicles.
At conception, the MIU is a customized coach bus equipped with computers, peripherals, and internet facilities such as the latest technology computer workstations, servers, networking, 2-way broadband satellite, Wi-Fi, 3G, IP telephony infrastructure, videoconference and audiovisual equipment, air-conditioning and power generator, making it totally independent from any network resource.
Before the decision to halt the project, Nigeria is cited among several developing countries that have been using the MIU as a means of bridging the gap between the info-rich and info-poor, to educate people, and also to promote ICT in their countries alongside nations like Malaysia and Cyprus, among others.
In Nigeria, the MIU was introduced by NITDA and commissioned by the Federal Government on the 10th of September 2003.
According to NITDA, the MIU is a locally-made bus that has been converted into a mobile training and cyber centre. Its interior has 10 high-tech workstations all networked and connected to the internet to facilitate access to several IT resources. It is equipped with printers, a photocopier and a number of multi-media facilities. Internet access is provided via a Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) equipment with a 1.2m dish mounted on the roof of the bus.
NITDA said at the time that everything in the MIU, including the bus, was locally assembled in Nigeria costing 25 per cent of a similar unit, if imported. The MIU has been used at various conferences to provide convenient access to the internet, even at very remote locations. It has toured some schools to expose and train the teachers and students on IT and the Internet, the agency says.
The agency said that some of the reasons for adopting at the time include its ability to, develop requisite skills in various aspects of IT, to maximize productivity and quality of service using IT, to provide equitable access to all users and stakeholders, to reduce the digital divide between the urban and the rural areas, to integrate IT into the mainstream of education and training.
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