FG, A4AI Push for Affordable Access to Internet Connectivity

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Emma Okonji

The Nigerian coalition of Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), in partnership with the federal government, is pushing for affordable and accessible internet for all Nigerians, to enable them take advantage of the opportunities that the internet presents to all users.

At the ongoing 5th edition of the annual Internet Freedom, which is being hosted by the Nigerian Multi-Stakeholder Coalition of A4AI, the group, which is coordinated by the former Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, has called on the federal government to come up with policy and implementation process that would enable Nigerians have affordable access to the internet.

Worried about Nigeria’s performance in the 2017 Affordability Drivers Index on internet connectivity, where Nigeria slipped from 12th place ranking in 2015 and 2016, to 13th place ranking in 2017, out of 58 countries surveyed and ranked, the coalition blamed Nigeria’s poor performance on the slow pace of policy and regulatory progress.

Citing the 2015 report of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which puts Nigeria’s online presence at 47 per cent, with about 36 per cent of women that are online, the coalition said although Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy, broadband affordability remained a challenge for many people. The group called on the federal government to build on its policy and regulatory reforms, to make broadband internet affordable for all income groups.

In order to achieve affordable internet access, the A4AI group advised government to work towards a new ambitious target of ‘1 for 2’, which is a formula that allows low income earners to get as much as 1 Gigabyte of mobile broadband, priced at less than 2 per cent of his/her average monthly income. The coalition said the formula would enable billions of people have access to internet at affordable price.

Giving details of the ambitious ‘1 for 2’ formula, the African Regional Coordinator for A4AI, Onica Makwakwa, called on Nigeria and other African countries to adopt the 1Gigabyte data per month, priced at less than 2 per cent of average monthly income. “This is far better than the UN policy that targets 0.5 Gigabyte data at 5 per cent monthly average income. We have since discovered that the UN target would not be sustainable for poor income earners in Nigeria, hence we are suggesting 1Gigabyte data priced at less than 2 per cent of average monthly income,” Makwakwa said.

In his keynote address, the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu commended the Nigerian coalition of A4AI, for their enthusiasm to increase the affordability of both mobile and fixed-line internet access in Nigeria, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Shittu said government understood the importance of affordable internet access for all Nigerians; hence it approved a stakeholder consultation on the establishment of an Internet Industry Code of Practice, which is coordinated by NCC. He said government would encourage increased participation of industry stakeholders to invest in broadband that would boost internet connectivity for all Nigerians.

The minister also called on the Nigerian coalition of A4AI to assist government in ensuring that millions of Nigerian come online, towards achieving the global SDGs 9c of universal and affordable internet access by 2020.