Under the Boost ICT Usage in Rural Areas empowerment initiative, Airtel has revealed that it will provide tablets and smartphones to facilitate the experience of customers.Airtel Nigeria will be touring rural areas in order to create internet awareness. The empowerment initiative will focus on creating awareness for ICT use and uptake.According to Airtel, the programme has been designed to help consumers living underserved communities to gain first-hand experience of the companys data services at no cost. Nigeria has over 55 million mobile internet users out of a population of 174.51 million, representing a 32.9 percent penetration rate with heavy concentration in the urban areas.Under the Boost ICT Usage in Rural Areas empowerment initiative, Airtel has revealed that it will provide tablets and smartphones to facilitate the experience of customers.The empowerment initiative will begin with rural communities in Ebonyi, the Airtel ICT train will visit rural communities in Imo, Enugu, Benue, Anambra, Delta, Edo, Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Cross Rivers, Bayelsa and Rivers.Other areas covered in the tour will include Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, Kwara, Oyo, Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory.Speaking on the initiative, Maurice Newa, Airtel's Chief Commercial Officer, said the programme was designed to bridge the gap between consumers in the rural settings and the world of opportunities before them.'We are pleased by the prospect of ensuring our customers in the rural communities experience data services aimed at enhancing their quality of work and living. As a responsible corporate citizen, we have consistently sought ways of rendering life enriching services to them just like we have done with those in the urban areas,' he said.'There is a lot going on across the globe which ordinarily may fall outside the scope of the rural dwellers but which, if they are given the right access, may bring their dreams to fulfillment. So we are providing this trusted platform for them to achieve more. This initiative is in tandem with our vision of becoming the most loved brand in the daily lives of Nigerians,' Newa added.According to allafrica.com, Newa also assured of the company's readiness to lead the drive for internet penetration and uptake especially in the rural areas of the country, which has about 50 percent of the total population but is yet to be covered effectively in terms of access to data services.'As a data-centric operator, we are prepared for the challenge of internet penetration in the rural areas. We have shown leadership with our 3,75G network which is in over 200 cities and towns across the nation,' Newa concluded.Staff Writer Click here to read full news..