Written by Yakubu Yakubu, Nigerian Network Operator/Coordinator
Nigeria has the largest population in Africa at about 200million citizens. However, only 46% of the population have internet access via cellular carriers. Many people lack adequate and qualitative internet connectivity, This is due in part to inefficiency in coming up with innovative technological solutions that address the situation and also big telecommunication companies who would prefer to monopolise the industry and reduce healthy competition. Althea is a decentralized network which can be deployed anywhere by anyone or group of people provided there is affordable backhaul connectivity.
In Garki Abuja, Althea offers high speed fiber broadband connectivity down to the mobile phones at the best rates the country has ever seen by a longshot. It requires the installation and maintenance of radio equipment by participants and organizers which grants the community high speed internet access and lets them earn some money in the process.
Althea Diplomat Park growing day by day
Althea launched its first network in Africa in early November 2019. An initial pilot network will start with about 15 participants.
The Akanyas excited for better internet
Musa Akanya purchasing Dai (Data Credits) by MakerDAO
The Akanyas, like every average Nigerian family, only had access via cellular data and at that had to mise the data but also use it up before the month is over. They were instrumental in acquiring the base for the gateway. A local mosque with backup power supply has allowed us to host our equipment for free. The Akanyas became the first recipients of Althea in Africa and helped us acquire 6 users which became a chain reaction to getting upto 15 installations within a short time span.
Some of the residents now stream Netflix from their Android TV and the children use Khan Academy to aid with areas of struggle in school and use YouTube to learn how to code.
Althea has also become a new source of revenue generation by some merchants in the Area. Haruna, a merchant who handles POS point of sale transfers, now sells data credits to fixed and mobile users in the area. Haruna gets more excited about internet access than selling data credits. He has become an active promoter of Althea in the neighborhood and has brought in at least 12 mobile users. Mr. Gbadebo (an Althea organizer) was so in love with the project he left Apo to Garki to help with maintenance and new installations and get his organizer fee. The larger the network becomes, the more he earns.
Yaxx and Mosque Caretaker Baba Danja
Backhaul Service Providers
Radio Backhaul Connection
Althea Gateway going live
Mr. Gbadebo and Mr Yaxx Althea organizers Diplomat Park
Haruna sells data credit for the community
Fatima, a student at Katsina State University studying computer science, became the first relay at Diplomats Park. She took a keen interest in Althea because she solves two problems unique to her. Firstly, she learns about mesh networking and is considering doing her project based on Althea as a way of getting more people in academia to learn about Althea and also to earn some money from her relay. She believes in community based internet provisioning. We also have Abdulhaqq who opted to become a relay due to the strategic positioning of his house. With a solar array for uninterrupted service delivery and a market not far away, he sees a good opportunity to beam signals from his house for affordable internet data via the Althea Mobile app and has been earning since then. His family also enjoys the service and some of them have started doing door to door marketing to get more people involved.
Fatima aspiring scientist and business woman is the first relay at Diplomats Park
First relay installation by Wisdom at Fatima’s residence
Abdulhaqq Althea’s second relay at Diplomats Park
Gbenga and Wisdom installing the Solar panels with the relay
The prices of internet in Nigeria was reviewed lately thanks to the intervention of the minister of communication and that has made people happy but are happier with Althea because it truly addresses the plight of the people living in their various communities.