Nigerians with access to fast Internet have grown by 108.39 per cent in four years, according to data from the Nigerian Communications Commission.
The commission’s portal revealed that broadband penetration increased from 38.72 million (20.28 per cent) in March 2018 to 80.68 million (42.27 per cent) in March 2022.
According to the ‘Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020 – 2025),’ broadband commonly refers to high-speed Internet connection.
It added that broadband penetration is measured by the number of broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants.
In the broadband plan document, the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was quoted as saying, “I am told that every 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration results in about 2.6 per cent to 3.8 per cent growth in GDP.”
According to data from the NCC’s portal, the contribution of the telecoms industry to GDP increased from 9.19 per cent in Q1 2018 to 12.61 per cent in Q4 2021.
The broadband plan intends to effectively cover 90 per cent of the population and deliver 25 Mbps in urban areas, and 10 Mbps in rural areas.
It added, “Rapid rollout of broadband services will address various socio-economic challenges faced by the country, including the need to grow its economy, create jobs, rapidly expand the tax base, and improve digital literacy and educational standards.
“This will also address identity management and security challenges through the effective use of technology, increase financial inclusion and deliver a broad range of services to its people to improve the quality of life and work towards attainment of Social Development Goals set by the UN for 2030.”
It stated that 4G LTE network was needed to achieve the kind of download speeds Nigerians need.
When the broadband plan was released, much of the Internet service in the nation was on 2G and 4G. It stated, “Internet services in the country are currently provided on 2G, 3G, and increasingly 4G mobile networks.
“However, though 4G coverage is available to 37 per cent of the population, download speeds in the country are noted to be generally uncompetitive with other countries in the same income bracket.”
According to the plan, it costs $3.5 – $5bn to achieve its aim. Much of the growth in broadband penetration is being driven by telecommunication firms.
In their recent earnings reports, MTN Nigeria Communications Plc. and Airtel Africa disclosed that they invested a combined N208.56bn in fourth-generation network and others in the first quarter of 2022.
MTN disclosed that 4G, which implies faster Internet, now accounts for 76 per cent of its data traffic and covers about 72 per cent of the population. Airtel added that 99 per cent of its sites in Nigeria now have 4G capabilities.
According to the World Bank, a 10 per cent increase in mobile broadband penetration could lead to about a 2.46 per cent growth in Africa.