The Nigerian Communications (NCC) has re-affirmed its claim of 31 per cent broadband penetration in the country, saying that all empirical indices pointed to the feat. The Commission noted that contrary to claims in some quarters, the target was achieved based on the estimated 190 million population of the country and 169 million connected lines.
It added that those who have access to broadband at a speed of 1.5 megabytes per second cover over 30 per cent of the population. By the five year National Broadband Plan (NBP), (2013-2018), it was targeted that the country should be able to attain a minimum of 30 per cent from the 5 per cent it had in 2013 in five years.
“Despite perceived drawbacks in the sector, the telecommunications remains one of the most consistent enablers of the economy and the economic well-being of the citizenry with over 10.43 per cent contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter of 2018, boosting employment both directly and indirectly and providing a robust infrastructure backbone to facilitate high level efficiency in all areas of the economy.
Based on World Bank index, increasing broadband by just 10 per cent in developing countries would deliver at least 1.38 per cent GDP increase per capita while a 10 per cent increase in internet penetration would lead to about 1.12 per cent increase in GDP per capita” the Commission said in a statement on Sunday.
According to NCC data, there were a total of 168,729,005 mobile “GSM” mobile subscribers in Nigeria as at November 2018. Of these, 108,457,051 were subscribed to internet access services provided by the major operators. The Commission noted that in terms of Broadband services, a total of 58,965,478 connected to the internet through 3G and 4G networks (including those provided by the Long Term Evolution (LTE)-only service providers such as Smile and Ntel). “This distinction is critical because Nigerians predominantly rely on mobile networks to access the internet, including Broadband networks since the fixed Broadband access which was to have been led by the erstwhile State incumbent – NITEL – is now literally non-existing” it said.
The telecom regulator explained that Broadband penetration is typically measured by the percentage of total population with access to Broadband networks out of each hundred. “So, if we take the total active Broadband subscription figure of 58,965,478 and divide by the population figure of 190,886,311 (using the UN’s projection as at December 2017), we come to a penetration percentage of 30.9 per cent” it added.
“Issues can of course be raised about using the UN figure as baseline – one supposes that the NCC used that figure for consistency since that appears to be the baseline used by the ITU in earlier studies. However, the reader is invited to use other population baselines and come with the above resolute. For instance, if we use the Nigerian Population Commission’s 2006 figure of 140 million, we come to a Broadband penetration rate of 42.1%. Most would agree that this would be rather unrealistic, as is the population estimate of 140 million.
Also, looking through the ITU Broadband Commission’s September 2018 Report, one would see that Nigeria’s Broadband penetration rate is set at an abysmal 19.9%. This cannot be the case, since that report is based on industry statistics of December 2017, which was clearly outdated as at September 2018 when the report was published” the Commission stated.