Bala was not at the latest UK-Nigeria online meeting - but he had an excellent excuse! For rather than joining this week’s online sesson, he was busy setting up the new antenna which will allow Fantsuam Foundation’s Academy to receive free bandwidth for the next five years.
Followers of this blog may recall that FF’s Community Communication Centre (CCC) was funded by the Nigerian Government and it was part of their commitment at that time to also provide this free bandwidth. The UK team were delighted to learn that they are now ready to fulfil that promise.
John Dada explained: “This will go along way to meeting about 40% of our bandwidth needs and that we can begin to shop around for the 60% shortfall, through the links sent to us by Russell Southwood.”
Bala has spoken to all the contacts Russell kindly sent and all have since responded. He is now looking at each of them to decide which offers the most affordable price and best service.
Bala has to make up his mind within the next week, in order that FF can migrate to a new provider before the US-based subscription ends this month
Ideally FF would prefer a fibre connection because, as John explained, it is much faster and cheaper (in the long run) than satellite the installation costs being the major challenge at this time.
Three companies have quoted FF with very similar prices - but sadly none has any special price for FF’s Last Mile audience
John explained: “They are all private sector, profit-driven, so we understand that and have to think of how to work with them. The companies are the mobile operators who have laid the fibre optic from capital city to capital city. We (FF) are the first customers asking them to consider the rural communities.”
John summed us the team’s feelings when he commented: “We will not relent, we know that in the long run, this base of the pyramid is really where the riches can be developed equitably.”
Comfort was also unable to attend the meeting as she was busy representing John at a meeting in Kaduna. This was a DFID meeting for the ESSPIN project - looking at how to promote better media engagement within that project.
As well as representing Fantsuam at the meeting, John was busy welcoming a Federal Government agency team (The Nigerian Technology Village Foundation ). The team had been sent by one of the Directors who had told them that they must visit Fantsuam if they wanted a first-hand experience of community engagement.
John said: “The Government agency thinks we are a model they would like to replicate. We showed them what we have, how we got here etc, and they seem impressed!”