By Adedotun Ajayi
Nigeria, with a population exceeding 200 million has become a notable figure in the internet realm during this era of digital progress. The nation has witnessed a swift expansion of its internet infrastructure, creating pathways for remarkable growth and opportunities. Nigeria has made substantial advancements, from boosting internet penetration to fostering the growth of broadband connectivity, as it forges its path towards a digital future.
Nigeria now ranks eleventh in terms of internet penetration and seventh in terms of mobile phone usage globally, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said.
The NCC Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer Umar Danbatta, disclosed that Nigeria is a telecommunications powerhouse, with 82 per cent of the continent’s telecom subscribers and 29 per cent internet consumption.
“Our nation ranks eleventh globally in terms of internet penetration and seventh in terms of mobile phone usage. Despite these remarkable metrics, the fact that our Network Readiness Index (NRI) ranking for 2022 is 109th out of 131 countries is both humbling and challenging.” he said.
He said that the Nigerian telecommunications industry has embarked on a remarkable growth trajectory, solidifying its position as an engine of economic growth.
“The enhancement of digital access and the expansion of our networks have left an indelible impact on the lives of our citizens.
“While we celebrate these accomplishments, we are keenly aware that our dynamic society requires even higher connectivity, reliability, and accessibility standards,” he said.
He said the surge in data utilisation, the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), the advent of artificial intelligence, and the emergence of cutting-edge technologies highlight the urgent need for ongoing network surveillance and expansion.
To navigate this era of transformation, he said the nation must embrace innovation, make strategic investments, and cultivate a growth-friendly ecosystem.
He explained that this platform is Nigeria’s gateway to innovative and disruptive solutions that can positively transform our industry.
“By engaging in conversations about new technologies, collaborating with global best practices and subject-matter experts, and pooling our insights, we open the door to unimaginable future possibilities.
“Let us grasp this opportunity to investigate emerging technologies, envisage their potential applications, and determine how they can be leveraged to solve our specific challenges,” he said.
He said the global data collected by the NRI team reveals that digital transformation is a global imperative in order to maximise the social and economic effects of the digital era.
He added that it can create new inequalities which can hinder the ability of younger generations to engage in the digital economy, but also remains a powerful way to do more with less at all levels of income.
Speaking with The Hope, Jerry Adeloye, a data analyst, said last year was not as buoyant for Nigerian tech startups as 2021 in terms of funds raised but they gained a total of about $1.3 billion according to various figures released by the individual companies, what does this tell you?
Nigerians are making good use of the internet through tech to erase poverty.
According to him; “The tech industry is a focal point of Nigeria’s growth, demonstrated by the recent height these tech companies have reached. But talking about internet service providers and pricing, it is nothing to talk home about because the major key players are not even Nigeria owned companies. Spectranet, an Indian company, dominates the internet service provider market in Nigeria, serving nearly 261,000 active users. As for mobile internet, MTN, a South African company, emerges as Nigeria’s primary operator with over 65 million internet subscribers. MTN also operates in mobile payments, a sector authorized by the Central Bank of Nigeria. Other key players in the mobile internet space include Lagos-based Globacom, Nigerian company 9mobile and Indian provider Airtel. When it comes to pricing, most Nigerians can not even afford these prices, I believe there should be an agency in charge of regulating these prices, it need urgent attention” he said
Also speaking, Yebo Adebowale a cyber security said the Nigerian government should be commended on some steps taken so far.
According to him; “In the digital age, Nigeria recognizes the vital significance of cybersecurity. The country has taken proactive steps to fortify its cybersecurity frameworks and establish dedicated agencies tasked with overseeing and mitigating cyber threats. Notable initiatives include the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy, along with the National Computer Emergency Response Team (ngCERT). These efforts underscore Nigeria’s commitment to safeguarding its ICT infrastructure and defending against cyber threats.” He said
In the same vein, Damilola Aina, a social media influencer said
“In light of Nigeria’s substantial mobile internet penetration and impressive smartphone ownership rates, it emerges as an enticing market for social media platforms. In 2022, the country boasted approximately 33 million social media users, with WhatsApp and Facebook leading the way, followed closely by Instagram and Facebook Messenger. It’s no surprise that young adults comprise the largest demographic of social media users within Nigeria”
She further said “However, it’s worth noting that there exists a gender gap in internet usage demographics. Analysis of online advertising data reveals a noticeable skew towards male audiences across all age groups, with certain age brackets showing up to twice as many male social media users compared to females, women needs to actively be involved online too” she said
On the contrary, Ayomide Olupona, a political scientist said “The advent of the internet in Nigeria has come with many positive developments such as connecting old friends and people generally, promoting business, sharing information with ease as well as serving as education and entertainment platforms, among others. However, as Nigerians have a predilection for distorting the original idea behind everything new, The internet i.e social media is becoming a potent weapon of social menace. Some of the social media-induced social menace in our society today include giving us a false sense of association (we don’t relate with people again, we relate with technology), the growing spectre of cybercrime, distraction, crowd mentality (inability to think independently thereby succumbing to groupthink and mob mentality) and breach of privacy among others, these things needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency” he concluded.