Broadband penetration in Nigeria grew at an average of 1 per cent a month in 2018 to hit the 30.9 per cent. Monthly statistics for broadband released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed steady growth in the year after setbacks recorded in 2017.
According to a World Bank study, a 10 per cent point increase in fixed broadband penetration would increase GDP growth by 1.21 per cent in developed economies and 1.38 per cent in developing ones.
While the figure for December has not been released, the 11 months statistics revealed 11.04 per cent growth from January to November in 2018. According to NCC, broadband penetration in the country was 19.86 per cent in December 2017 and 37.9 million Nigerians were connected. However, by November 2018, the penetration had reached 58.9 million people to hit 30.9.
Further analysis of the data showed that in a marginal growth of 0.11 per cent was achieved in January to bring the penetration level to 19.97 per cent, it grew in February by 0.22 per cent and in March 0.9 per cent. It however grew by 2.9 per cent in April to reach 23.19 per cent of the population while 44.3 million people were connected.
In May, penetration grew by 1.6 per cent and 0.29 in June. July and August saw broadband access increased by 0.13 and 0.34 per cent respectively. Highest monthly growth was recorded in September as the penetration grew by 2.8 per cent to hit 28.39. In October, access increased by 1.44 and grew by 1.07 per cent in November.
Explaining how the country achieved the 30.9 per cent, which surpassed the 30 per cent target set in the National Broadband Plan (NBP) 2013-2018, NCC in a cent statement had disclosed that there were a total of 168,729,005 mobile “GSM” mobile subscribers in Nigeria as at November 2018. According to the Commission, of those, 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 per cent. 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.