Technology Telecoms

Broadband: Nigeria back on track as penetration rises by 2.3m


Telecommunications operators in the country recorded 2.3 million increase in broadband penetration in August, TechTrackAfrica reports. This development broke the nine-month losing streak that started in November 2020 and continued until July 2021.

According to the latest industry data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) subscriptions for high-speed internet in the country jumped from 75.9 million in July to 78.2 million at the end of August. This showed that the network operators had added 2.3 million broadband customers within the month.

This brings the country back on track in the implementation of the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025), in which the service is expected to reach 90 per cent of the population.

From a peak point of 45.93 per cent in October 2020, broadband penetration in Nigeria slipped to 39.79 per cent in July this year. The decline, which started before the ban on new SIM registration in December 2020, was worsened by the policy as the operators lost many broadband customers during the four-month ban.

An analysis of the NCC’s data showed that the service providers had lost a total of 11.7 million broadband subscribers between November 2020 and July 2021.

An analysis of the NCC’s data revealed that in November 2020, broadband penetration had declined by 1.6 million, breaking 10 months of consistent monthly growth. By December, it went down further as the number of broadband subscriptions stood at 85.9 million, compared with 86 million in the preceding month while the penetration level went down to 45.02 per cent from 45.07 per cent recorded in the preceding month.

January 2021 saw the number of broadband users in the country declined by four million from 85.9 million in December to 81.9, which brought the penetration level to 42.93. And in February it went further down again to 79.9 million users, and by March it had reduced to 78.6 million.

In April, the subscriptions plunged further to 77.6 million as the operators lost another one million users. May saw the broadband database declined from two million to 75.5 million. It, however, increased marginally in June to 76.2 million.

Between January and October 2020, broadband connectivity in the country had increased by 15.5 million. On average, the country had been recording a one per cent increase each month, as the mobile network operators continued to push for deployment of 4G service across the country.

Speaking on the implementation of the NBP 2020-2025, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Dr. Isa Pantami had said that broadband penetration was key to reviving the Nigerian economy. Citing reports from the World Bank and the World Economic Forum, the Minister said 10 per cent of broadband penetration in any country would improve its GDP by at least 4.6 per cent.

The Minister noted that the NBP addresses three of the eight priorities that the Federal Government assigned to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and the parastatals under its purview, for implementation.  “These priorities are the implementation of broadband connectivity and execution of a plan to deploy 4G across the country, as well as the development and implementation of a digital economy policy and strategy,” he stated.

The implementation of the Plan, he said, would lead to the creation of jobs, improved socioeconomic development, and sustained economic growth, amongst others. “However, it is important to note that the successful implementation of the Plan requires synergy between government and the private sector. As such, this Plan has received input from all stakeholders and will be driven by the private sector, with the government providing the enabling environment,” he said.

“Digital technology offers Nigeria the opportunity to grow and diversify its economy from the overdependence on oil & gas export proceeds. With a teeming population estimated at 203 Million according to the United Nations (UN), where over half of the population is under 25 years of age, the country is faced with the tremendous challenge to put this largely unemployed and underemployed population to work,” the Minister added.

According to him, the rapid rollout of broadband services would address various socio-economic challenges faced by the country, including the need to grow its economy, rapidly expand the tax base, and improve digital literacy and educational standards.

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