Nigeria's internet remains costly as data depletion worsens

In Nigeria, the cost of mobile internet is high. However, data depletion remains a widespread problem for subscribers despite substantial plans.

Nigeria's internet remains costly as data depletion worsens

“Over the last two months, I've purchased data subscriptions four times. The other day, I acquired 112GB for ₦16,000, only to see it depleted in less than two weeks. I also invested ₦50,000 in a 400GB plan that was meant to last three months, but it barely endured for a month,” Lengdung Tungchamma, a data scientist and digital creator, told

Correction: A previous version of this article said Lengdung purchased 400GB for ₦350,000. That was an error and it has been edited to show the actual amount, ₦50,000.

Tungchamma relies on MTN's 4G and 5G routers for connectivity. He acknowledged that his data usage is on the heavier side, but he finds the situation concerning. He said, “I agree that I am a heavy data user, but this is absurd. It was only when I observed the rapid depletion of data that I decided to scrutinise my usage. What’s evident to me is that this situation is unsustainable.”

Nigerians, like Tungchamma and myself, must dedicate approximately three hours of work each month to afford mobile internet, as indicated by the 2023 Digital Quality of Life Index. This is a staggering 11 times more than the situation in Luxembourg, which boasts the world’s most affordable mobile internet, with Luxembourgers needing just 16 minutes of work per month to cover it.

Moreover, Nigeria’s internet quality is notably sluggish, with average mobile internet speeds clocking in at 47 Mbps. It is worth noting that the fastest mobile internet, found in the UAE, reaches speeds of 310 Mbps, while the slowest, as seen in Venezuela, barely achieves 10 Mbps. “The internet is also very slow in many African countries. Even if people can afford the internet, they still face limitations in what they can do,” according to Agneska Sablovskaja, Surfshark’s lead researcher.

As of 2022, Nigeria had nearly 84 million internet users. Aside from the high cost and low quality of the internet, several users like Tungchamma have to deal with data depletion. This occurs when a subscriber exhausts his or her data bundle before the expiration date or when more data volume is utilised for accessing online content.

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