- Title: NIGERIA: Country aims to increase internet users to 100 million
- Date: 18th May 2012
- Summary: MONITOR SCREEN
- Embargoed: 2nd June 2012 13:00
- Location: Nigeria
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Communications,Technology
- Reuters ID: LVA6C8HSKLL6JJ61K7EJ9OPO8908
- Story Text: Nigeria aims to double the number of people using the internet to 100 million from 45 million in the next few years by streamlining its policies and reducing the cost of broadband, its communication and Technology minister, Omobola Johnson said.
Johnson, announced at a recent workshop in Lagos that the country was working towards improving internet connectivity countrywide.
The minister said that a few difficulties faced in laying out the groundwork were being looked into.
"One of the challenges is the roll out of that infrastructure, rolling out fibre optic networks and also wireless networks as well. There are issues around the right of way because if you don't have right of way to lay fibre, you can't lay fibre; there are issues around the multiple regulations, the multiple taxes as operators and infrastructure providers roll out and some of the issues around base station build out as well and these are issues that we have to come together as government ministries to resolve them," she said.
The event was hosted by Accenture and Xtensure, global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing companies.
Nigeria's Main One Cable went live in 2007 and can deliver ten times the broadband capacity of the existing South Atlantic Terminal (Sat-1), the country's sole marine cable at that time.
The $240 million cable with a capacity of 1.92 terabits has 20 times the entire satellite capacity of sub-Saharan Africa. But bottlenecks around government policies and the cost of installing infrastructure has constricted expansion across the country.
"Nigeria is ahead of the game in a lot of ways and lots of other African countries look to Nigeria as a model for development. It's a big country and there's a lot of people here so to get those people connected and to maintain the quality of that service, is a big challenge," said Adrian Hall, Director, Sales and Marketing, Xtensia.
Johnson pointed out that Nigeria has the fastest growing telephone industry with over 90 million active mobile lines but the legacy of infrastructure development, characterised by operational issues such monopoly ownership, exorbitant high pricing and discriminatory access, have had little impact on broadband expansion in the country.
She said that it was evident that there was practically no broadband market in Nigeria despite the present capacities on the country's shores.
Despite the high costs and unstable internet services in the country, tens of thousands of young entrepreneurs have not been deterred and have ventured into online businesses.
Linda Ikeji, Nigeria's renowned blogger is one such individual who's taking advantage of the opportunity and now earns thousands of dollars every month from advertisers on her website.
" The biggest challenge really is internet connectivity, sometimes, you can't upload and for someone who is a blogger where you have to be on the go like you always have to be in front of the computer to put up stories like breaking news and all that; you need internet that works 24 hours but sometimes in Nigeria, it doesn't work 24 hours, it's so slow, like some days ago, I had so many news to put up...... I wanted to cry, that is the biggest challenge, really," she said.
Usen Udoh, Senior Consulting Director Accenture believes that the growth of broadband would improve economic growth in Nigeria which today has over 65 percent unemployment.
"I can't give you any indices for capacity development but I can tell you that it is clear to me that if we get the broadband policy right, the quality of education will not only go up, but the quality of life of dissertations and the amount of wealth that will be created for the country goes up," he said.
In June 2011 it cost $600 per megabite to get connected from Lagos to London compared with $1,100 between Lagos and Nigerian capital Abuja.
Africa's most populous country, with over 150 million people has the highest number of fiber optic cables on the continent currently but still has a low internet penetration.
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