In Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, only 16% of the population has access to the internet, as Digital Source 2021. This post looks at how the Nigerian government can help expand access to this essential resource for economic development.
The internet has revolutionized how businesses and governments work around the world. Eighty-seven percent of American adults now go online, as per a Pew Research Centre study from 2017. In France, the figure is 89% and in South Korea 96%. Only 16% of adults in Nigeria are connected to the internet.
Nigeria lags behind on many indicators of human development. The country lies at 161st place out of 189 countries on the United Nations Development Programme’s 2020 Human Development Index. And the country is the 6th most populous country in the world, with 200 million people, which makes it one of the most densely populated countries on earth.
Internet use in Nigeria is low across all demographic groups. However, the good news is that the percentage of Nigerians who use the internet has doubled since 2014 and is now growing at over 60% per year higher than any other African nation.
The internet is a valuable resource for individuals and businesses of all sizes in Nigeria. In fact, the lack of internet access has hurt small businesses more than any other group. This is why the government has launched an ambitious project to get 25 million Nigerians online by 2020. The project will cost $45 million per year over five years.
Why has the growth been slow? Most Nigerians live in rural areas and many do not have electricity, let alone an internet connection. The government expects to install solar-powered “internet-on-wheels” WiFi hotspots in rural areas. The government also estimates it will have to lay a fiber optic cable network of over 1,000 kilometers to enable wider internet access.
The Commercial Value of The Internet In Nigeria
The internet has made many services more accessible and convenient for consumers around the world. These include online shopping, cloud computing, online music streaming, and instant messaging. The internet is also a valuable sales channel for small businesses in Nigeria. In other African countries, the web has become an important sales channel for entrepreneurs and small business owners, for whom the internet is easier to use than brick-and-mortar storefronts.
Nigeria is already experiencing some of the effects of the growing importance of the internet. About a third of Nigeria’s population uses online banking, for example. But these numbers have been rising since 2014 because Nigerians are demanding enhanced digital banking services, which cannot be accessed offline.
Having released that the country is lagging behind on internet access. The Nigerian government is expected to increase the number of internet users in the country from 70 million to 138 million by 2022. The Nigerian government has implemented policies designed to connect more people to the internet and has established a regulatory framework for the provision of digital public services. The government’s 2020 National ICT Policy laid out an ambitious plan in terms of infrastructure, human capital, skills development, and regulation for expanding access to and usage of digital technology for all sectors of society. The Nigerian Communications Commission has already begun work on expanding access to the internet for the general public by using fiber optic cable.
The Business Case for Providing Internet Access In Nigeria
The Nigerian government already mentioned is pushing ahead with its plan to increase Internet connectivity in the country. This presents businesses with opportunities to profit from the demand for this service. Consider one of Nigeria’s leading telecoms, MTN, which has invested over $1 billion in fiber cable infrastructure in rural areas. Investing in physical infrastructure is obviously vital in ensuring this service gets to the rural areas.
The internet plays an increasingly important role in business-to-business activities. In the field of e-commerce, for example, online retailers like Jumia, Konga, and Shopping.com are making it easier for Nigerian businesses to sell locally and internationally. Nigeria is also experimenting with crowdfunding as an alternative source of financing that enables startups to access seed capital with minimal regulatory barriers at least for now.
As the Nigerian government has embarked on an ambitious plan to get more people online. This is good news for companies, which can look to tap into the growing demand for internet access in the country by investing in infrastructure. Businesses operating in Nigeria should look to take advantage of opportunities for growth as the economy develops and demand for internet access rises.