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CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES OF INTERNET IN RURAL AREAS

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Abstract: The core objective of the study is to investigates the challenges and opportunities of internet in rural areas of Inna with view to stress digital divide for rural inclusive for development. The study was anchored on Diffusion of Innovation Theory and Technological Determinism Theory to give the study the needed footing. A cross-sectional survey research method was adopted while questionnaire was used to elicit responses from the respondents using a quota sampling technique. The data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics (frequency and percentage) while the data were presented with the aid of tables. The study found out that most of the respondents have access to the Internet in their respective community to some extent. Also, a substantial numbers of the respondents are browsing directly on their phones as many of the respondents surfing the Internet between 3-4 hours on a daily basis. Equally, poor Internet network service is the major challenge hampering effective use of Internet among the respondents in their respective locations as a result, poor or lack of Internet connectivity brings about limited access to online market. However, majority of the respondents (65.5%) admitted that improvement in infrastructure development can enhance Internet connectivity in rural areas of Inna. It is recommended that problems facing the users can be curbed through the provision of more telecommunication masts especially by bringing more competitors masts into areas will none exist, so that there will be competition. Also, government should as a matter of fact earmark urge amount of budget for rural electrification project since majority of Nigerians are still belief to be living in the rural areas.

Keywords: Challenges, Opportunities, Internet Connectivity, Rural Areas, Digital Divide


Introduction

Advancement in Information and Communication Technology particularly in this 21st century has altered all facets of human activities including access to people, information, businesses, governance, educations, social life general and so on are practically available anywhere and anytime at a very quicker, cheaper and easier way as a result, the Internet connectivity has become an integral part of modern life, transforming the way we communicate, access information, and conduct business (Babatunde and Olayinka, 2019). While urban centers have experienced significant improvements in internet access, rural areas often face challenges in bridging the digital divide. Inna, a state in Nigeria, is no exception, with its rural regions struggling to gain reliable and efficient internet connectivity (Ezekwe, Onwe, and Larry, 2014).

However, one of the primary challenges faced by rural areas in Inna is the lack of robust internet infrastructure. Telecommunication companies often focus on urban areas where the population density promises better returns on investment. This neglects the needs of rural communities, leaving them with inadequate or non-existent network infrastructure, hindering internet accessibility (Chinecherem, Awodele, Kuyoro, &  Izang, 2015).

Again, another major obstacle is the high cost associated with setting up internet infrastructure in remote regions. The terrain and distance make it more expensive to install and maintain the necessary infrastructure, discouraging companies from expanding their services to rural areas (Chinecherem, Awodele, Kuyoro, &  Izang, 2015).

Equally, rural areas in Inna often suffer from unreliable power supply, which affects the consistent functioning of internet services. Without a stable power grid, the continuous availability of internet access becomes a challenge, making it difficult for rural inhabitants to benefit from the digital world fully (Chinecherem, Awodele, Kuyoro, &  Izang, 2015).

Similarly, a lack of localized content is another barrier to internet adoption in rural areas. The limited availability of content relevant to the local population hampers the potential benefits of internet connectivity and may lead to disinterest among rural users (Babatunde and Olayinka, 2019).

There is no gaining saying that, the world cannot become a global village as forecasted by McLuhan if the villages, rural communities including urbanised areas cannot get connected to the Internet faster and perform range of activities from sharing information, commenting on public issues, e-commerce, education and to politics. It is against this background that the research investigates the challenges and opportunities of Internet connectivity in rural areas of Inna communities in order to bridging the digital divide for rural inclusive development.

Statement of the Problem

The assertion of McLuhan’s ‘Global Village’ might appear unrealistic and unachievable especially if people in the rural communities cannot enjoy quality internet network as their counterparts in the urbans and cities. Unavailability or epileptic power supply, lack or poor Internet facilities, high level of illiteracy, lack of Internet service and many more are the major identified challenges hampering Internet proliferation, penetration and effective usage in most rural communities in Nigeria (Obasi and Kalejaye, 2013).

The Internet penetration though is high in the cities and in some urbanise areas but the quality of services and infrastructure expansion remain a challenge in the rural area where majority of Nigerians estimated to be 52% were residing in 2016  (World Bank, 2016).

However, for Nigeria to realize its goal of becoming one of the 20 largest economies in the world, it must take advantage of the Internet. This entails serious efforts in moving from lack, poor, slow, low-capacity copper wire to fibre-optic networks; and making sure that rural communities are not left out of the access to the information society.

Although, lots of studies have been conducted on the impact of the internet on various aspect of life by previous researches in the likes of Obasi, 2013; Osang, 2012; and Adeagbo, 2013), however, this is aiming measure if there is digital divide between those living in the rural communities and those in more urban and cities. It is against this background that the research investigates the challenges and opportunities of the Internet connectivity in rural areas of Inna in order to bridging the digital divide for rural inclusive development.


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