BusinessDay

Nigeria’s broadband penetration hits 44.5 percent, targets 2020 peak

Nigeria’s broadband penetration rate has continued on the rise, moving up from 40.9 percent in February 2022 to 44.5 percent in July 2022, yet to meet the peak it reached in October 2020 at 45.9 percent, data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) shows.

According to NCC in its 2020 report, the Covid-19 pandemic led to increased growth in the consumption of the internet with an increase in data subscription as businesses shifted online.

“The increase in data usage is directly linked to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic which disrupted normal activities and most functions had to be held virtually including schools, and corporate meetings among others. The pandemic altered the way and manner business activities were hitherto carried out globally. The year 2020 witnessed a significant surge in data usage,” the NCC said.

Despite the peak point, the broadband penetration rate slipped to 39.8 in July 2021 after multiple declines. The decline was a result of the ban on new SIM registration in December 2020 and it got worsened by the policy in 2021 as telecommunication operators lost subscribers during the four months period.

Upon recovery, the growth rate picked up at 41 percent in August 2021, after it declined again in December at 40.8 percent. While the figure is presently targeting its peak growth rate at 45.9 percent, Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC says the commission is on course to meet its target of 70 percent broadband penetration by 2025.

To exceed the benchmark set, the commission says emerging technologies and advancements in the sector would enable it to match these developments with appropriate regulations and guidelines.

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“With the technological advancements anticipated in the coming years, it is expected that there will be a proliferation of devices in the industry. It is, therefore, essential for the Commission to ensure that the right regulatory frameworks can accommodate such eventualities, ”Danbatta said.

While experts continue to associate factors limiting broadband penetration in Nigeria with poor network infrastructure, inadequate electrical power supply, right of way (RoW), and cost of price, among others, they are optimistic about the growth rate witnessed in the quarter-on-quarter numbers so far in the year.

To further drive this growth, Femi Adeluyi, Technical Assistant to Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, stated that all major regulators of internet services including the NCC and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) have been directed to ensure that the quality of service is improved.

This would help the implementation of the broadband plan 2020-2025 for the overall benefit of Nigeria’s digital economy, as well as the harmonisation of Right of Way charges across the states and protection of critical national infrastructure across the country.

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