Nigeria's broadband penetration reached 44.5% in July 2022

Nigeria's broadband penetration reached 44.5% in July 2022, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission.

Nigeria's broadband penetration reached 44.5% in July 2022
A broadband tower

Nigeria's broadband penetration reached 44.5% in July 2022, according to a report released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) last month. As of February 2022, broadband usage was at 40.9%.

NCC describes the penetration rate as "hopeful for achieving the national broadband target of 70% in 2025". Nigeria is the largest mobile telecommunications market in Africa, largely based on rapid development following the successful auction of Digital Mobile Licenses (DML) in 2001.

Internet services in the country are currently provided on 2G, 3G, and 4G mobile networks. Just recently, MTN became the first telecom to launch 5G network in the country, across nine states including the FCT.

The number of internet service providers (ISPs) in Nigeria increased to 225 in September 2022 from 187 recorded in December 2021. This is based on the updated list of licensees published by the NCC 38 more companies have been licensed—including Elon Musk’s company, Starlink, whose licence was approved by the telecom regulator in May this year.

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Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) such as MTN, Airtel, Globacom, and 9mobile are also offering Internet service alongside voice and other services as permitted by the Universal Access Service Licence (UASL), the ISPs are licensed to provide internet service only.

The MNOs as of July this year had a total of 151 million active internet subscriptions, while the core ISPs had 210,597 active internet customers.

Although the increased number of ISPs is supposedly equal to broadband penetration, most of these providers are concentrated in urban areas like Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt, further widening the digital divide. For instance, MTN launched its 5G service in 81 locations in Lagos, 42 in Abuja and 30 in Port Harcourt—the top three locations. Currently, the network is only available in two Northern states—Kano and Borno.

The Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025[pdf] intends to achieve 25mbps and 10mbps in internet speed for both urban and rural areas respectively—at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data (2% of median income or 1% of minimum wage). As of July 2022, according to Speedtest, internet speed in Nigeria stands at 10.25mbps and 9.40mbps.

Recently, Google landed the Equiano subsea cable in Lagos and has since announced a partnership with the Federal Government as part of the broadband policy drive. According to Google, the internet cable will have a direct impact on connectivity, resulting in faster internet speeds, reduced internet prices and improved user experience in the country.

Threats to broadband penetration in Nigeria

In January 2020, the NCC announced an investment of ₦265 billion ($732 million as of the time) into revamping and building infrastructural fibre networks, which includes the deployment of an additional 30,000 kilometres of fibre by 2025. However, the private-public partnership has been constrained by regulation, red tape and state authorities.

Telcos operator said that the implementation of the proposed excise duty on all telecommunication services—which was recently suspended by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy—will affect broadband penetration.

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Broadband penetration is directly proportional to GDP. A 2009 report by the World Bank[pdf] estimated that for every 10% increase in broadband in developed nations, GDP will grow by more than 1%. A 2019 study by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) argues that a 10% increase in mobile broadband penetration yields a 2% increase in GDP in low-income countries, and an increase of 2.5% of GDP per capita.