At the recent celebration of the 150th International Telecommunication Union (ITU) anniversary in Abuja, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications Technology, Omobola Johnson, revealed that the country now accounts for 29 percent of Africa’s internet access, having increased internet usage to 52 percent in 2014, from 11 percent in 2013.
A key driver of this upsurge is the Ministry of Communications Technology itself. Since its creation in 2011, the country has moved up in the UN e-government development ranking while internet access and adoption have significantly improved across the country.
With the increasing use of ICT in both the public and private sectors of the economy, access to broadband internet has spiked, opening up new ways of doing business and a more effective service delivery.
“Before August 2001, Nigeria had a combined fixed and mobile telephone subscription of just over 400,000 lines since independence in 1960,” Dr Johnson confessed. But in just 14 years after the licensing of the mobile operators, the country now boasts of over 148 million connected phone lines with a tele-density of about 97 percent, a good foundation on which the government can connect its cities to the internet through the national broadband plan aimed at making internet services ubiquitous across the country.
“Telecommunications and ICTs have become pervasive and recognized the world over as drivers of innovation from the purview of social, economic, commercial and cultural development of a country,” she added. Indeed, a striking correlation exists between broadband penetration (a measure of internet adoption) and per capita GDP (a measure of economic development) as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has calculated a correlation of 64 percent between the two.
The ITU itself has corroborated this link, saying in its April 2012 report that broadband exhibits a higher contribution to economic growth in countries that have a higher adoption of the technology.
By Emmanuel Iruobe