During the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic turmoil, mobile internet connectivity has continued to grow. For the first time, more than half of the world’s population – just over 4 billion people – are using mobile internet. In 2020, coverage continued to increase across the world, with 94% of the population now covered by a mobile broadband network.
In Nigeria, broadband penetration has surged in the past seven months from November 2021 with a record seven million new subscriptions, indicating a steady increase in the country’s quest to achieve nationwide coverage of 70% by 2025.
Internet user penetration in Nigeria has seen a slight increase between the years 2017 and 2022, from around 26% to over 38%. In 2022, the estimated number of internet users in the country is over 108 million.
This increase follows losses, both in terms of subscriptions and revenue, experienced in late 2020 and most parts of 2021 due to the federal government’s ban on the sale of SIM cards.
For most of 2021, statistics showed that penetration had dropped significantly, with a rate of around 3.9%.
This is despite the ongoing implementation of the country’s new National Broadband Plan (2020-2025), the objective of which is to achieve a penetration rate of 90% in terms of population and a reach of 70% in terms of of the country’s total landmass by 2025.
But between November 2021 and January 2022, the network added 3.2 million new users to the network, pushing subscription to 79.4 million at the end of January.
Statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed an increase in subscriptions, which took broadband penetration in the country to 41.61% from 39.89% recorded in October 2020.
However, from a peak of 45.93% in October 2020, broadband penetration in Nigeria fell to 39.79% in July 2021. The decline, which began before the ban on the registration of new SIM cards in December 2020, was compounded by politics as the operators lost many broadband customers during the four-month ban.
Experts and NCC predict that the share of the Nigerian population that uses the internet through any device at least once a month is expected to increase to around 60% by 2026.
Speaking on the implementation of the NNBP 2020-2025, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami said broadband penetration was key to reviving the Nigerian economy.
Citing reports from the World Bank and the World Economic Forum, Pantami said that 10% broadband penetration in any country would improve its GDP by at least 4.6%.
The Minister said that the NBP addresses three of the eight priorities that the Federal Government has assigned to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and parastatals under its jurisdiction, for implementation.
“These priorities are the implementation of broadband connectivity and the execution of a 4G deployment plan across the country, as well as the development and implementation of a policy and strategy. digital economy,” he said.
Implementation of the plan, he said, would lead to job creation, improved socio-economic development and sustained economic growth, among others. “However, it is important to note that the successful implementation of the plan requires synergy between the government and the private sector.
As such, he said the plan had received input from all stakeholders and would be driven by the private sector, with the government providing an enabling environment.
“Digital technology offers Nigeria the opportunity to grow and diversify its economy due to its overreliance on oil and gas export earnings,” he added.
The chairman of the National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS), Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, said the increase in broadband penetration was the result of the government’s conscientious implementation of the national policy digital economy for the overall benefit of the economy. Digital Nigeria.
“Nigeria’s National Broadband Plan (2020-2025), along with the harmonization of right of way charges across all states and the protection of critical national infrastructure across the country, has had a significant impact on penetration broadband,” he said.
He said broadband was essential for sustainable economic growth.
He quoted the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Broadband Series as saying: “Broadband contributes to economic growth through greater efficiency in business processes, accelerated innovation and a more effective functional deployment of companies”.
In some countries, he said broadband increases GDP by more than six percent. “Increasing broadband penetration is driving the growth of the Nigerian economy in a way that transcends the ICT sector,” he added.
Pantami’s technical assistant, Dr. Femi Adeluyi, noted that broadband has supported growth and enabled financial institutions to provide services to their customers.
Adeluyi said it has also enabled the provision of digital services across the different sectors of the economy.
“It should be noted that all of these are part of the digital economy, which has been defined as the part of economic production derived solely or mainly from digital technologies with a business model based on digital goods or services, consisting of the sector and emerging digital technologies and platform services,” he said.
He said the Minister had directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), which are regulators of internet services, to ensure that the quality service is improved.
Mr. Adeluyi also said that the minister urged all parties concerned to continue to support the ministry in implementing the broadband plan for the overall benefit of the economy.
Similarly, the Executive Vice President (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, who recently presented the broadband internet penetration figures in Lagos, said that the steady growth in broadband penetration had a positive impact on other sectors of the economy such as health, education, agriculture, finance, transport, trade, governance and other sectors.
“Internet subscribers increased from 90 million in 2015 to 150.36 million in May 2022. Additionally, during the reporting period, broadband penetration increased from 8% to 43.67%, indicating that more than 83.3 million subscribers are on 3G broadband networks. and 4G. Indeed, between November 2021 and May 2022, the networks added 7 million new users,” Danbatta said.
On universal access and service, the NCC’s chief executive said that the commission, through the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), has had tremendous successes in ensuring that telecommunications are accessible to a large number of people (and communities) at affordable prices, in addition to various projects implemented by the commission to increase universal access and service as well as to strengthen the government’s efforts in poverty reduction.
He said that through the Commission’s 2021-2025 Strategic Vision Implementation Plan (SVP), also known as the NCC’s 5-Point Program, a number of steps have been taken to implement implements all digital economy-focused policies that require the commission’s attention, including the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025, and the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), 2020-2030.
“We are confident that the communications industry will continue to experience quantum leaps that will benefit the national economy and its citizens,” EVC said.
However, the GSMA said that 43% of the world’s population still do not use mobile internet, despite living within the footprint of a mobile broadband network. Unconnected people disproportionately live in low- and middle-income countries and are more likely to be poorer, less educated, older, rural and female. While increasing mobile broadband coverage remains an important issue to address, closing the usage gap is key to closing the digital divide.
The President of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Engr Gbenga Adebayo, said the access gap in rural areas has continued to widen despite all the promises made over the years by the federal government on rural telephony.
Adebayo said in Nigeria that there are people who still have to leave their compounds and surroundings to go to higher lands or hills to make calls, receive calls or text messages due to poor communication networks. telecommunications.
This, he said, was due to lack of infrastructure and insecurity in rural areas. He urged the government to improve infrastructure and security in the hinterland so that telecom operators can improve the quality of telecom networks in the regions.