School calls for solar power for computer lab

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

Worried by the crushing cost of running a generator, the Principal of the Girls Senior High School, Agege, Lagos, Tajudeen Adeyinka, has appealed to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to explore the provision of alternative source of energy, especially solar, to power the computer laboratory the regulator just donated to the school.

Adeyinka who spoke during the official inauguration of the computer laboratory built by the regulator under its Digital Access Programme (DAP) expressed gratitude for the gesture, but lamented that the high cost of running the facility on fossil fuel may make it appear like a Greek gift. He said the student population of the school is about 10,000, stressing that the school has helped promote government’s girl education drive.

Provided in the lab were 20 PCs, internet access and a stand-by generator. Adeyinka’s appeal is understandable considering the fact that power supply from the national grid is hardly available. With a population of about 180 million people, Nigeria hardly generates 3,000 megawatts (Mw) of electricity forcing businesses to depend largely on generators to run their businesses.

The Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah said DAP is one of the programmes which the NCC introduced to bridge the digital divide existing in secondary schools, adding that its concept is a designation of a classroom fully equipped with computers and other ICT facilities, including a generator and internet connection to enable the schools and its immediate surrounding environment to have access to the internet.

He said: “Many of the secondary schools, including those in remote villages of this country have testified to how this programme have facilitated their online examination activities such as subscription to JAMB, WAEC, NECO among other examinations.

The idea is to ensure that students, who are the leaders of tomorrow, are early adaptors of ICT, especially the internet which has limitless resources. It is also designed for the surrounding communities to have access to the internet, especially when the students are not available to ensure maximum use of the bandwidth subscription for the affected school. So far, more than 200 schools have benefitted from DAP.

“Apart from DAP which is designed for secondary schools, we also have the Digital Access Programme for Tertiary Institutions (ADAPTI) under which we provide about 110 computers to the beneficiaries to equip the lecturers with new ICT skills in order to impact same on their students. “So far, more than 300 institutions of higher learning in Nigeria have benefited from the programe since its introduction in 2008. This is in addition to the introduction of the Wireless Cloud, a complimentary package comprising of laptops with wireless internet facilities. Another 144 institution, including some who already have ADAPTI, have benefited from the Wireless Cloud.”

He said the key objectives of these programmes are to prepare the nation for a digital future and equip the youth with the necessary skills to tap into the potentials of the digital age, adding that in the case of DAP, it is aimed at building a foundation for young generation and to also prepare a good background for the broadband revolution that is being currently pursued by the commission.

He added that the Commission is vigorously pursuing a programme to provide pervasive broadband availability and affordability across the country. He expressed hope that some of these programmes would create a fertile ground for usage and exploitation of broadband for the benefit of the economy.


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