The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has commended the work being done by the Women in Technology in Nigeria (WITIN), stressing that there is a need for improved connectivity in Nigeria’s rural communities.
The newly elected Secretary-General of ITU, Doreen Bogdan-Martin, who gave the commendation last week at an event organised by Women in Technology in Nigeria (WITIN) to mark the 2022 International Women’s Day, stated to get more rural dwellers in Nigeria connected, the agency is already collaborating with the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
This collaboration, she noted is important going by the fact that improved Internet connectivity has become crucial in the next phase of development in Nigeria and other parts of the continent. “Only 50 percent of rural communities in Africa are connected, hence the need to work with the governments to bridge the connectivity gap,” she said.
Bogdan-Martin believes that the partnership with the Nigerian government would ensure that more women in rural areas have access to the Internet. According to her, when more rural women have access to the Internet, their productivity would increase.
According to her, rural women in Africa are playing critical roles in food production and need to be connected to the Internet to enhance their productivity.
“We are working with Nigeria’s Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to connect Nigerian rural women. We want to make sure that every rural area in Nigeria is connected, especially for rural women that are producing most of the foods that we eat.
“We have discovered that 70 percent of Africa’s foods are produced by rural women but only 34 percent of them use the Internet. These women need to be connected. Technology can help farmers in monitoring crops, predicting weather conditions as well as combating agricultural pests, and this is the area we are working with Nigeria to bridge the connectivity gap in rural areas,” she said.
Also speaking at the event, the executive vice chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, urged rural women and farmers to leverage technology to boost food production. While noting that modern agricultural technology increases employment, efficiency in production, and time and cost reduction, the EVC said: “Today, the telecommunications industry plays a crucial role in providing the requisite support for the diversification of the economy through improving the knowledge economy using ICT as an enabler. It has enhanced human capabilities in areas such as health, education, agriculture, finance, transportation, commerce, and governance.”
The EVC who spoke through Oladoyin Aiyenitaju, a Principal Manager at NCC, said: “It is our conviction that if digital inclusiveness is diligently pursued by all stakeholders concerned, we would have been able to address a number of Goals in the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals 2030, especially with respect to poverty elimination, zero hunger, gender equity, reduced inequality, among others.
Africa Public Policy Manager, Access and Connectivity, Meta Platform Inc., Sade Dada, said the participation of ITU, led by the new Secretary General underscores the importance of digital access for all.
According to her, Meta has invested significant resources in bringing her platforms; Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to nationals including empowering women.
WITIN Founder, Martha Alade, who commended the women from Ifeoluwa Piggery Farm, Ojoo-Badagry, Lagos, said the rural women need connectivity to stay connected and contribute meaningfully to the nation’s development.
Alade said that empowering the women farmers was part of the Organization’s programes for job shadowing, leadership, entrepreneurship and mentorship.
In response, Chinenye Nwokoye, the Women Leader of Ifeoluwa Piggery Farm, thanked WITIN and the ecosystem supporters for their interest to look into their plights.
According to her, women are encouraged by the outcome of the day’s occasion. She however listed some of the challenges faced by smallholder farmers. Nwokoye said they lacked funds to expand their farming business, especially the procurement of animal feeds.