Nigeria’s internet subscribers have reached a whopping 151.51 million. The telecom sector of the National Bureau of Statistics made this known in its latest report. In QI 2020, the country recorded 143.63 million subscribers with an increase to 151.51 million in Q2. This shows a 4.59 percent rise in voice subscription quarter on quarter.
‘Telecoms data for Q2 and Q3 2020 reflected that a total of 196,242,456 and 205,252,058 subscribers were active on voice as against 189,282,796 in Q1 2020,’ the report stated.
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Nigeria obtained its first internet connections in the 1990s. Within the last two decades, there have been giant strides achieved with regular upgrade of telecommunications infrastructure in the country. Nigeria is one of Africa’s largest telecom markets, profiting from being the largest economy on the continent.
Lagos State in Q3 2020 has the highest number of subscribers based on active voice per state. This is subsequently followed by Kano and Ogun States. The least number of subscribers are Bayelsa and Ekiti States.
The last Covid-19 lockdown restrictions that resulted in the working-from-home options led to a massive rise in internet usage. The global pandemic created an increased dependence on internet services. Connectivity at this point became a major requisite for boosting productivity.
In 2019, Nigeria recorded 172 million mobile phone users making the country the 7th highest number of mobile phone users in the world. Despite the high number, the country will still experience significant growth.
Broadband penetration has reached 39.6%. Intensifying broadband penetration will lead to an enhanced internet speed. The growth of the market is largely due to a rise in the number of young and tech-savvy Nigerians. This has made Internet Service Providers (ISPs) reduce the cost of data bundles as competition accelerates.
There has been a rising demand for video streaming content with the emergence of tech startups in Lagos. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have predicted a future expansion of the broadband infrastructure.
The question now is, with the rising number of internet subscribers at an impressive rate, where are those growth opportunities and what would be the significant impact of this digital accomplishment on the country’s economy?
Imperial College Business School in 2017 examined data from 135 countries. The research revealed that a 10% increase in mobile broadband penetration could boost GDP from 0.6% to 2.8%.
GDP numbers provide evidence. Information communication and telecommunications (ICT) contributed up to 14.07% of Nigeria’s GDP in 2020. It was at 12.22% in 2018. This means that the more the subscription rate, the higher the chances for the ICT sector to contribute more to the country’s GDP.
Whenever a country increases its broadband speed, economic output rises by 0.3%. This means that broadband will become the infrastructure that radically improves the exchange of valuable goods (or services and ideas) resulting in remarkable economic growth.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act alone dedicated $7.2 billion as investment including a ‘National Broadband Plan’ promoting universal access. Globally, the International Telecommunication reports that about 70 countries have adopted plans to promote broadband internet access. Close examination of the economy has shown that faster gigabytes seem to give GDP a good boost.
The global world is a digital age and internet impact on Nigeria’s economy cannot be overemphasized. The World Bank opines that the internet promotes economic development by providing access to opportunities that were beyond reach of most disadvantaged people in the world.
Businessmen and women continue to enjoy the opportunities that come with the internet. Research by the Imperial College Business School also revealed that global mobile brand connections increased from 27,000 in 2001 to 4.1 billion in 2016. This shows an average growth rate of 122% per year.
The internet has provided small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with useful information that allows for access to the global marketplace. This makes it easier for companies to compete in the global marketplace without being physically present in those countries.
Nigeria’s increasing mobile phone internet base is propelling commercial activity in sectors such as e-commerce and applications like video streaming services. It has also impacted many other sectors of economy. The transport sector has experienced a boost through the mass usage of mobile internet. A lot of jobs have been created through delivery or ride-hailing services. Nigerians can now save and invest in mobile apps, and even watch Nollywood movies on mobile applications.
Although Nigeria ranks 112th based on the mobile internet speed index, less than 50% of mobile internet users have access to 3G and 4G technology. High internet users are within specific states.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 50% of mobile internet subscribers are within ten Nigerian states. With the rising number of mobile penetration in the country and its impact on the economy, more opportunities would be created. There is urgent need to improve regional connectivity.
Also, concentration should be given to internet speed and reliability. High productivity is one of the means to ascertain growth in the sector. An upgrade in mobile internet access should be followed with investment in allied sectors This will help advance technology in the country and impact greatly on the economy. The pace of this impact will be largely dependent on how we take advantage of the internet.