Nigeria has ranked second as the country with the most affordable Internet in emerging nations according to a study conducted by Alliance for Affordable internet (A4AI).
In a presentation by Sonia Jorge, executive director, A4Ai, at the Ericsson and Alliance for Affordable Internet programme at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain recently, Nigeria was buoyed by a strong leadership and regulation of the industry, robust broadband strategy, effective competition in the telecommunications sector, efficient spectrum allocation, universal access to rural and underserved population, and infrastructure sharing, among others.
Jorge said “Nigeria comes second in the Affordability Index’s ranking of developing economies – scoring higher than other African developing economies like Kenya, Morocco and Uganda, and higher even than some emerging economies, including Mexico, South Africa, Thailand and Tunisia.
The backbone infrastructure in Nigeria has improved significantly over the last decade, with multiple players, including Phase 3, Glo 1, Suburban Telecom, Multilink and MTN, building fibre networks that crisscross the country.
Minister of Communications Technology, Dr Omobola Johnson who spoke at the forum said what will grow the internet in Nigeria is local content and not over-reliance on YouTube and other such social media channels.
She said “What will drive the internet is relevant, local content. The most visited sites in Nigeria are the job and the news sites, not social media.”
Johnson informed that the decision of the Nigerian government that ICT was primary leading to creation of the Communication Technology Ministry has positively affected the fortunes of the sector.
She hailed the commitment of the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration to the development of broadband technology in the country, pointing out that on presentation of the Broadband Report to him in 2013, the president immediately gave the implementation go-ahead.
His action has added impetus to what is happening in the sector.
Nigeria’s regulator, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), plans to award seven licenses to regional infrastructure companies to extend broadband infrastructure nationally.
The first two of these were awarded in early 2015 to MainOne and HIS Communications to provide services in Lagos and North Central states, respectively.
The government is also working to improve infrastructure sharing among these operators, who have traditionally built overlapping fibre networks.
The nascent “Smart States” initiative, which sees states committing to reduce the cost of broadband access by reducing taxation and simplifying regulation, is also a positive step.
Nigeria’s mobile broadband penetration rate stands at just 10 per cent despite the fact that close to 40 per cent of Nigerians use the Internet – and the government has put in place policies to increase this penetration level to 30 per cent by 2018.