Emerges third in Africa
Cost of internet in Nigeria is still one of the highest in the world, Tech Track Africa has leanrt. A survey of 61 low and middle income countries of the world saw the country ranked 18th in internet affordability. However, the country is faring better compared to other African countries, according to the 2018 Internet Affordability Drivers Index report released by the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4I).
The top 15 countries on the index, led by Malaysia, are considered to have the most affordable internet. While Nigeria is not among, it came third in Africa, behind Mauritius, which is 12th on the global ranking (first in Africa) and Morocco, which ranked 14th globally (second in Africa).
The affordable Internet initiative by A4AI stipulates that the cost of 1GB of Internet data should not be more than 2% of average monthly income. Currently in Nigeria, 1GB of data on the four GSM networks cost N1000 on the average. According to Numbeo, a global database on cost of living, the average monthly income in Nigeria is ₦84,478.57, an equivalent of $234.66, whereas 40% of Nigerians earn less than half of the average monthly income, resulting in basic mobile broadband taking up to 7-18% of their monthly income.
A4I in the report noted that affordability remains one of the most significant obstacles to internet access around the world, with 2.3 billion people living in a country where a 1GB mobile broadband plan is unaffordable for individuals earning an average income. “A number of national household surveys over the last few years have cited the high cost to connect as one of the major factors keeping people offline — unsurprising when you consider that across low- and middle-income countries, just 1GB of mobile broadband data costs 5.5% of average monthly income. Only 24 of the 61 countries assessed in this year’s report have “affordable” internet and even in those countries, high income inequality means that prices remain unaffordable for those earning the least” it said.
The report is an annual publication examining the policy and regulatory framework that had allowed some countries to make internet more affordable, accessible and universal. Speaking on the report, the Executive Director A4I, Sonia Jorge, while policies continue to improve on the whole, the pace of policy change remains far too slow to ensure affordable access for the billions still offline. “We note that policies to expand and further develop infrastructure have stagnated and, in the case of island archipelago nations, the cost to provide mobile broadband data is multiple times the cost to do the same elsewhere. We provide specific recommendations and look forward to working with current and new partners to put these in practice to the benefit of the billions still unconnected” she said.
In Nigeria telecoms operators have blamed high cost of internet on government policies, especially, with regards to multiple taxation and high cost of Right of Way access to lay fibre. These factors are said to have stagnated the country’s broadband penetration at 22 per cent, while the country is aiming at achieving 30 per cent by end of this year.
According to the CEO of Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), Mr Rudman Mohammed, to bring down the cost of internet in Nigeria and deepen broadband penetration, the government would have to take some critical policy decisions to address current challenges. “It all depends on government. It is sad that at this point in time that we are trying to achieve 30 per cent broadband target, all kinds of taxes are coming and some of the state governments are even shutting down base stations. With such things happening, I don’t see us achieving the target. But as I said it is all about government policy, they can quickly reverse this and ensure that there is enabling environment where service providers can flourish, then within a very short period, you will see massive roll out across the country. If all the state governments come out today and say look we are giving you right of way for free, that will make huge impact. If you give the right condition, the deployment processes can be fast-tracked” he said.