N160m digital village abandoned in Cross River
The N160 million Digital Village co-financed by Samsung Electronics West Africa and UNESCO in Oban, Akamkpa Local Council of Cross River State has been abandoned.
The Digital Village, which is the only one in the country was expected to provide access to the world’s most advanced information and communication technologies, education and health services to under-resourced areas, bridging the digital divide and serving as a catalyst for local business development and government service delivery.
The centre commissioned on May 7, 2015 by then governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, has Internet school for students, built to accommodate up to 24 learners; a tele-medical centre for dental care blood laboratory; ear, eye and blood clinic with a diagnostic room; administrative centre and a generator that powers the admin centre which can be used as office with limited electricity supply. All these facilities are solar powered.
During the commissioning last year, the Managing Director of Samsung Electronics West Africa, Mr. Brovo Kim, said that a large proportion of rural areas across the continent do no have electricity, resulting in isolated communities with limited access to education, health care and connectivity, which are necessary components of socio-economic development.
He said: “We are not only bridging the digital divide but also providing a facility that meets the most critical health and education needs of the rural community, providing the appropriate technologies.
A community leader and businessman, Mr. White Paulinus said: “I think the necessary things were not put in place before commissioning. Since commissioning nobody has come back except the contractors that came to install the close circuit cameras. Since then nothing has happened.”
The project was designed to serve Akamkpa and other communities.
A Catholic priest, Reverend Father Evaristus Bassey said: “I know that there have been some challenges on the project as regards Internet but then there should also be a proposal for a solution so that MTN can upgrade the 2G network in the community to a 3G, which I believe can be financed under N2 million.
“I am really surprised that no one has taken an interest in resolving the issues affecting the immediate take off of the centre. It does not portray the government of Cross River State in good light because this project is in partnership with UNESCO and Samsung. It is the only one in Nigeria and it is allowed to rot like that.”
Commenting on the issue, the State Commissioner for Education, Mr. Goddy Etta said government was aware of the situation and “we are even going to visit there with the ICT Commissioner within the week. But he is the best person to speak to you.”