Nigeria ends 2019 with 10.7m new telephone lines, 37.8% broadband penetration

By Adeyemi Adepetun |   23 January 2020   |   3:04 am  

•UN canvasses policies to crash Internet cost, infrastructure financing

Some 10.7 million lines were added to Nigeria’s telephone network in 2019. This made the country to finish the year with 184.7 million active telephone subscriptions. This resulted in 96.8 per cent teledensity penetration.
    
Nigeria, which started the year with 174 million subscribers, deepened broadband by 37.8 per cent with some 72 million people in the country now claimed to be having access.
    
According to the December 2019 telecoms statistics obtained from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), by The Guardian yesterday, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), especially the quartet of MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9Mobile, and Fixed Wired operators increased Internet users by 11.7 million, which made the country to end the year with 126 million online population.

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The statistics showed that there are however, 269.7 million connected lines across the GSM, Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Fixed Wired/Wireless, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) platforms.   

Further analysis of the report showed that MTN finished the year as the largest operator, the position it has held since Nigeria’s telecoms revolution started in 2001, with 69 million subscribers, and 37 per cent penetration. Globacom is second with 58 million customers, and 28 per cent market share.
    
Airtel ended the year with 27.2 per cent penetration with service offering extended to 50.2 million subscribers. 9Mobile in 2019 had 13.6 million customers with control over 7.4 per cent of the market.
   
Meanwhile, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) UNESCO Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development has examined new financing models that would help accelerate ‘meaningful universal connectivity’.On the sidelines of the yearly meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, ITU, noted that today, an estimated 3.6 billion people remain offline. It stressed that the majority of the unconnected live in least developed countries, where an average of just two out of every ten people are online.
 

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The Commissioners agreed that targeted efforts are needed to lower the cost of broadband, as well as innovative policies to finance the roll out of broadband infrastructure to unconnected populations. Collaboration among diverse stakeholders will be key to making universal and meaningful connectivity a reality for all.
  
Minister of ICT and Innovation, Republic of Rwanda, representing President Paul Kagame (who Co-chairs the Commission, Paula Ingabire, said: “We are on the verge of a new era that requires quick, effective and innovative financing instruments to connect the remaining unconnected. The old ways can no longer work in this era and we can no longer afford having anyone left behind.
    
From his perspective, ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, said expanding avenues for investment in information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure has always been one of his priorities. “As we enter a new decade, the last decade to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, we need new incentives and financing solutions to create environments that are conducive to investment in ICT.
  
“‘Meaningful universal connectivity’ encompasses broadband that is available, accessible, relevant and affordable, but also that is safe, trusted, user-empowering and leads to positive impact. It also advocates the need to go beyond ‘business as usual’ policy prescriptions and projects, and towards more collaborative models based on resource sharing and holistic approaches,” Zhao stressed..
    
Commissioners and participants also examined ways to address the digital investment gap, policies and incentives for investors and other digital industry stakeholders, and what innovative financing models can be scaled up to expand infrastructure.

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Among the models highlighted is the ITU UNICEF School Connectivity project, also known as the ‘GIGA’ initiative. It aims at bringing connectivity to every school in every village around the world to empower young people with the digital skills they need to flourish in the digital economy. The GIGA initiative is anchored in the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation’s findings which state, that by “2030 every adult should have affordable access to digital networks” and calls for “a broad, multi-stakeholder alliance, involving the UN to create a platform for sharing digital public goods.”   
    
The GIGA initiative has four pillars, including map connectivity of every school and use it to show where connectivity demand is, and use new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) to create a real-time map of school locations and their connectivity level; finance a Common Bid that aggregates connectivity demand in schools (pooled across multiple countries) and creates a cost-forecasting model to make connectivity more affordable.
  
Others include connect every school to the Internet and create a monitoring system to oversee the level and quality of connectivity delivered by internet service providers.Empower young people with skills by investing in, and scaling up, open source solutions that – with connectivity, will be available to children, teachers and administrators.          

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