ICT Africa Headline News

Three Billion Internet Users - Why Nigeria May Take the Front Row

28 July, 2014

Source: Daily Trust

There will be almost 3 billion Internet users by end of this year, two-thirds of them coming from the developing world, this is according to International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

ITU in its 2014 ICT figures issued recently also indicated that, by the end of 2014, the number of mobile-broadband subscriptions will reach 2.3 billion globally; fifty-five per cent of these subscriptions are expected to be in the developing world. But Nigeria being one of the largest ICT markets may likely lead the pack.

"The newly released ICT figures confirm once again that information and communication technologies continue to be the key drivers of the information society," ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré had said.

"If we want to understand the information society, we have to measure it," Brahima Sanou, the Director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau, said. "Without measurement we cannot track progress or identify gaps which require our attention."

But the figures show that fixed-telephone penetration has been declining for the past five years. By end 2014, there will be about 100 million fewer fixed-telephone subscriptions than in 2009, according to the figure.

Mobile-cellular subscriptions will reach almost 7 billion by end 2014, and 3.6 billion of these will be in the Asia-Pacific region.

ITU said the increase is mostly due to growth in the developing world where mobile-cellular subscriptions will account for 78 per cent of the world's total.

But the data show that mobile-cellular growth rates have reached their lowest-ever level (2.6% globally), indicating that the market is approaching saturation levels.

By end 2014, fixed-broadband penetration will have reached almost 10 per cent globally, according to the figures.

"Forty four per cent of all fixed-broadband subscriptions are in Asia and the Pacific, and 25 per cent are in Europe. In contrast, Africa accounts for less than 0.5 per cent of the world's fixed-broadband subscriptions, and despite double-digit growth over the last four years, penetration in Africa remains very low", the ITU figures said.

Africa, the Arab States, and CIS are the only regions with double-digit fixed-broadband penetration growth rates. The Americas region stands out with the lowest growth in fixed broadband penetration, estimated at 2.5 per cent and reaching a penetration rate of around 17 per cent by end 2014. Europe's fixed-broadband penetration is much higher compared with other regions and almost three times as high as the global average.

Nigeria may lead the rest of the developing countries because the government has embarked on a five year broadband plan to make the internet even more ubiquitous across the country. Besides, some mobile operators as well as some indigenous ICT firms have increased investment in their networks and businesses to key into the broadband plan of the government. National telecommunications carrier Globacom Nigeria is currently upgrading its network across the country with $100million (1.7bn). Globacom's Chief Executive Officer Mohamed Jameel said company is upgrading its switches and doing sites swap across the country to meet up with modern challenges and increase level of internet users. He said 500 base transmitting stations and sites with data coverage would be built across Nigeria to improve data network. The company is building the new data network so that every Nigerian can have access to the internet, he said.

He added that the company has placed order for 100 G fiber backbones which would make the Glo network a robust one.

"The upgrade we are doing will surely have positive effects on the economy: more jobs will be created and many players in the sector will benefit from our gesture", he said.

He said GSM has really revolutionise the way things are done in Nigeria and Glo would only make it better. Though he admitted that increase in the usage of social media by media is impacting negatively on the revenues of all telecoms operators, the Glo CEO said the company is devising other ways to improve on its revenue.

Also, the only sun-powered laptop in the world which has up to seven hours battery life was introduced into the Nigerian market by a Canadian company, WeWi Telecommunications, recently, all in the bid to increase numbers of people who are online in the country.

Speaking at the launch of SOL in Abuja yesterday, the Chief Operating Officer of WeWi, Roland Carson said the laptop is charged using energy from the sun through its power generating device. Carson said SOL would change and improve lives in the country through education, science and health as it has come to solve the problem of access to electricity which limits the use of computer.

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