APC member organisation, Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), is running the Nigerian School of Community Network. CITAD is a non-governmental and non-profit organisation that was established in 1996, with offices in Abuja, Kano, and Bauchi. The organisation is committed to the use of information and communication technologies for the development and promotion of good governance.
The organisation focuses on youth and women, continually looking at innovative uses of ICTs to improve access to information, build skills and help connect people with necessary resources.
Education, advocacy, and ICT business promotion are three pillars of their approach to their work. CITAD does not yet have a community network but believes the real work is in creating awareness amongst the communities on the benefits of ICT and getting the government to support the emergence of community networks through a policy and regulatory framework.
The first encounter of the school started on 6 December 2021, in Kaduna, Nigeria, where members of rural communities discussed for five days how to create and manage community networks, as an alternative to bridge access gaps in the country. This is the first school of its kind in Nigeria and it provided an opportunity to meet and train people from rural areas on such issues.
Besides the seven communities selected to participate, members of the advisory committee of the programme attended the inauguration of the school physically. The advisory committee was previously formed as part of the methodology of the creation of all schools, as can be read in the guide Technological autonomy as a constellation of experiences: A guide to collective creation and development of training programmes for technical community promoters (2021).
In August 2022, the second interaction took place in Kano and subsequently there has been a series of online mentoring and workshops. During this encounter, the lessons were delivered in English and Hausa, which is the ethnic language mostly spoken in the north part of the country.
This school focused their efforts in two dimensions: to strengthen the local organizations they work with and to provide digital literacy in an extended way with different students in the development of the programme. CITAD has focused the school on women´s participation to strengthen their skills, making great efforts to integrate women into the process of use of technology and participation in community networks in Nigeria. Also, this school has a relevant relation to host media organisations for advocacy purposes, and specifically to amplify the policy advocacy work they have developed in Nigeria.
At the moment, CITAD is working with the local organizations in mentoring activities for the development of the microgrants projects and the replicability of the school on a larger scale with other partners in the country. A third iteration of the school was planned for June 2023 and a National Conference of Community Networks in July 2023.
Some of the microgrants projects are related to entrepreneurship development programmes in microfinances, technical sessions on telecommunications with the idea to transact lots of businesses, and training on resource mobilisation for community network sustainability, among others.