Opportunities for Universal Telecommunication Access in Rural Communities: A Case Study of 15 Rural Villages in Nigeria’s Kwara State16 January 2017
The goal of universal telecommunication access is to make telecommunication infrastructure available to everyone irrespective of their geographical location, income level, age, gender or other discriminatory parameters. Despite substantial efforts to close the digital divide, developing countries still encounter daunting challenges in making access truly universal. In this article, the authors report on an exploratory field survey of 15 rural communities in Nigeria’s Kwara State to document their perception of the effects of rural telecoms access on their livelihoods. Results revealed mostly positive effects in respect of economic growth, poverty alleviation, health education, primary healthcare delivery, and reporting of epidemic outbreaks such as the recent Ebola crisis. However, little impact on quality of government service was recorded, as awareness of participation in governance and socio-political issues was found to be very low. The article discusses some areas in which universal telecommunications access can be expected, going forward, to address the needs of communities in rural and remote communities.