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Last Updated: Monday, 22 September, 2003, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Nigeria goes surfing with wheels
Rural Nigerians will be able to access the internet via satellite
The myth about the internet being an entirely urban facility in Nigeria could soon be destroyed following a government campaign to avail the internet to as many Nigerians as possible.

The plan involves sending mobile communication buses around the country and inviting people to use internet services aboard.

The Director-General of Nigeria's National Information Technology Agency, Professor Oladele Ajayi, told the BBC Network Africa programme that the idea has already been tested.

"It has been tried in some schools in the federal capital, Abuja, and the response has been tremendous," said Professor Ajayi.

The service will involve the installation of Vsat satellite communication systems on buses which will travel from one village to another.

Nigeria has a population of more than 100 million but communication using land lines is difficult, unreliable and expensive.


The trials so far have shown that there is great interest in internet services among Nigerians.
It costs just 20m Naira ($155,000) to get one bus running
Professor Ajayi
National Information Technology Agency

"After visiting boys and girls schools, the effect is that the federal capital authorities now want their own buses to go round the federal capital territory," said Professor Ajayi.

He said that it was now possible to take the services to rural areas because the cost of Vsat satellite terminals has come down considerably.

"It costs just 20m Naira ($155,000) to get one bus running, including generators for use in the rural areas and all other related equipment," said Professor Ajayi.


The government says that apart from taking computer and internet literacy to people living in disadvantaged areas, the programme will also help to create jobs.
Nigerian mobile phone user
Nigerians boycotted mobile phones in protest at the high cost of calls

Nigerians also held a one day boycott of their mobile phones on 19 September in protest at the high cost of calls.

Licences were first granted to mobile phone companies in Nigeria only two years ago and since then, Nigerians have seen a radical change in the way they go about their daily business.

The Nigerian market offers vast potential but has a limited landline network. This has held back the development of the internet in, but mobile phone use has boomed.

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