Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI)- My world pulse experience
The Internet is all about globalization of information beating space and time aimed at enhancing sustainable development which was before now the prerogative of developed countries. But now, one can see that the use of Internet in our present day society is as common as eating the basic staple food. Its importance in the information driven society cannot be over emphasized. I want to believe it is to this extent that World Pulse is embarking on the WWW campaign to educate and empower women on internet use so as to bridge the digital divide. And as part of the campaign, I was privileged to partake in the opportunity offered me by world pulse to attend the A4AI forum organized in Abuja, Nigeria. It was also an opportunity to meet my wonderful sisters in person though we have been communicating in world pulse online. And so, I was eager to meet them, I kept thinking to myself, is this for real? That I was going to meet great women, leaders who are transforming their communities by empowering grassroots women, we all live in the same country but have never met, never even heard about each other’s work but thanks to world pulse who brought us closer and now we are about to meet in real life. It was in the midst of all these thoughts that I arrived at the venue.
As soon as I got into the venue, I took a seat and I saw this beautiful lady seated opposite me, immediately I felt a connection like I’ve met her before, then I looked at her name tag and I was right, she is Busayo! I walked up to her, introduced myself and we were so excited we welcomed each other with hugs. We were so eager to meet Green-girl and Celine. A few minutes later, green-girl walked in and the same again, we welcomed each other with hugs, and not long, Celine walked in, we all arrived the venue early, and that gave us the time to exchange pleasantries and to take our photos. It was a great privilege and rare opportunity representing world pulse at the event, and what kept beating my imagination was how we connected so easily. We were meeting for the first time in person, except for Busayo and Celine who had earlier seen each other, but it felt like we’ve known each other for years! I was so happy, it was so real! When we were greeting each other with excitement, some participants in the hall were smiling at us and we gladly told them we are World Pulse Women and we were meeting today in person for the first time but we have been communicating online; Green-girl then shared with us the printed copies of the World Pulse WWW campaign fliers she made and we used that to introduce World Pulse and the WWW campaign. One of the men sitting beside me asked, “What is women weave the web all about?” and I shared with him, and he shared the flier to the next man who was beside him. The program began and later we were shared into different groups for group discussions. In my group we looked at policies and practices to encourage lower cost structure for the industry with focus on streamlined processes for infrastructure deployment and sharing. We discussed intensely on it, and for me it was my first time hearing words such as local loops, lease line, right of way, tower zoning, fibre or ducts. I never knew that it takes such long procedures to get the internet access down to us; it’s a whole lot of work. And in my country, the relevant stakeholders are working hard on bringing down the cost, it is still a work in progress. During the group discussions, trying to find ways in which to make internet affordable and available, my group noted that in Nigeria, policies guiding this exist but the present policies does not cover all aspects of infrastructure, and also there is no remote access network. We discovered the greatest challenge is lack of awareness. Through advocacies and alliances like this that we are attending and by highlighting business opportunities that this broadband will bring we believe will really help in making internet access affordable. And the huge success of it depends on the locals and state governments to negotiate with stakeholders. After the event, the 4 of us sat together and discussed the way forward, how we can partner with the alliance and the government and what we can do together to help in making sure that grassroots women have access to the internet and at an affordable price. It was a great moment meeting my wonderful sisters, ordinarily it would have taken me years to get to meet Busayo, Green-girl, and Celine, and probably take us a longer time to get to know each other, but the power of the internet made all this happen and so easily in the shortest time possible. The internet is a powerful tool in bringing a change and transforming the world. Thank you world pulse for giving me this wonderful opportunity.