Nahimah Ajikanle Nurudeen
Rapid expansion of the wireless networks on 4G, Long Term Evolution(LTE) technology has pushed Nigeria to be number 1 in Africa and eight in the world in terms of internet usage.
This was disclosed by the second edition of digitalfacts – Nigeria, West & Central Africa; a publication produced by digitXplus with 63 million internet users across the country.
The book stated that the following 15 countries have the highest number of internet users in the world: China (632 million); USA (269 m); India (198m); Japan (110m); Brazil (105m); Russia (87m); Indonesia (83m); and Germany (68m). Others are: Nigeria (63m); UK (57m); France (54m); Mexico (52m); Iran (49m); Egypt (43m) and South Korea (42m).
The publication revealed that since 2011, Nigeria has maintained a steady upward trend in the number of internet users. It stated that from 35.7 million, the figure increased to 42.8 million; 51.8m; 57.7m and 63.2m internet users in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015; respectively.
Digitalfacts puts the total number of internet users worldwide at 3.2 billion as at December 2015; representing a whopping increase of 8.9% over 2.9 billion internet users recorded at the end of 2014.
Based on the regional statistics contained in the publication, Asia-Pacific had 1.6 billion internet users as at December 2015; while North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Central/Eastern Europe and Middle East/Africa boasted of 288 million; 325 million; 310 million; 238 million; and 429 million; in that order.
The book further made public that the Nigerian telecom sector, one of the largest in Africa, is driven almost completely by mobile telephony. “Rapid expansion of the wireless networks and competition has driven down voice tariffs and made basic cellular services affordable, especially for the poorer rural consumers,” digitalfacts stated.
It also acknowledged that the relatively affluent urban middle classes increasingly enjoy 3G and 4G LTE services; adding that consumers face issues pertaining to service quality and network congestion while religious extremism in the north of the country has affected infrastructure investments.
“The fixed-line network is weak and fixed-broadband penetration is very low in large parts of the country. The government has however come out with a National Broadband Plan which aims to increase 3G and fixed-broadband coverage by 2018, helped by an expanding fibre-optic network. A proliferation of local online marketplaces and higher internet penetration in cities have resulted in strong growth in e-commerce transactions”, the book stated.
However, digitalfacts noted that the cloud computing segment of Nigeria’s economy offers immense potential. It stated that e-government development lags behind global peers and pay-TV penetration is extremely low in Nigeria. “An underdeveloped IT infrastructure and high rural poverty and income inequality are key challenges for the telecom sector”, the publication disclosed.
Patrick Gomes, Chief Executive Officer, digitXplus, explained that most of the access to internet in the region is through mobile devices.
He said Facebook in the West and Central Africa is almost 50m monthly active users; adding that the numbers speak about the size and strength of digital as a medium, which continues to grow year on year.
“At digitXplus, we endeavour to bring information about the region to fore, we now present the second edition of Digital Facts Book with an objective to organize information on Digital medium in West & Central Africa, thus making it easily accessible and useful to all”, Gomes stated.
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