By Adeyemi Adepetun
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on ICT and Senior Personal Assistant to the Vice President, Lanre Osibona, gave the new figure, yesterday in Lagos at the first day of the Mobile West Africa (MWA) 2017 conference with the theme: Defining the Future of Mobile Growth
Although it is still very low compared to some Africa countries, Nigeria’s broadband penetration has hit 21 per cent. It moved from 14 per cent in 2015 to 20 per cent last December.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on ICT and Senior Personal Assistant to the Vice President, Lanre Osibona, gave the new figure, yesterday in Lagos at the first day of the Mobile West Africa (MWA) 2017 conference with the theme: Defining the Future of Mobile Growth.
The implication of this is that the country may as well be on track to achieving the 30 per cent penetration target of the Federal Government for 2018, becoming a plus for faster economic growth.
Osibona, who commended the efforts of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the network operators for the growth, however said the figure is still very low, when compared with other African countries such as Rwanda, which had attained a 33 per cent penetration as at 2015.Indeed, The Guardian checks showed that Egypt, Algeria and South Africa had 37, 38 and 51 per cent penetration as at 2015.
Meanwhile, the West Africa Early Adopters Report presented at the forum by the Founder, All Amber, organiser of the event, Matthew Dawes, showed that about 89 per cent of Nigerians, from a recent survey, wants current data tariff slashed significantly.
The report claimed that there would be 220 million unique mobile subscribers in West Africa by 2020 with penetration hitting 53 per cent.The report noted that 46 per cent of users in Ghana complained about poor battery life of their devices, with 68 per cent of users in Nigeria own or can access more than one device.Also, it is tracked that 24 per cent of early adopters spend more than three hours per day on the mobile per day in Nigeria.
The panelists, which comprised the Chairman of Signal Alliance, Collins Onuegbu; Founder and CEO, L5Lab, Chika Nwobi; Head of Business, sub-Saharan Africa, Uber, Justin Spratt and CEO, BRCK, Erik Hersman, stressed the need for fresh investments in the technology sector.
For them if the sector must create the needed jobs that will sustain the economy, government must match policies with actions.Specifically, Onuegbu urged government to create ‘Matching Fund’ for Startups, stressing that it has also become important for the Federal Government to give incentives to investors, who are already taking the pain and risk to invest in Startups and the sector.
From his perspective, Spratt said while fresh funding is critical to helping the sector, there was need to develop human capacity, “there is need to invest in coders to create jobs.”
The Uber Head of Business for SSA said it has also become important for government to communicate to the young people, the importance of software development, saying the future lies in content creation and software engineering.
On his part, Nwobi noted that though the future of technology has become difficult to predict because of its disruptive nature, “Nigeria and Nigerians however, need to be ambitious.”
According to him, African governments have very big roles to play in deepening technology penetration in the region.Responding, Osibona said the Federal Government is engaging at different levels with the private sector, saying the ICT remains a big aspect of the diversification plans.He said government indeed wants to catalyse the industry, saying some funds had been invested in several ICT initiatives in the country, including GEM startups.