The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta has revealed that over 40 million Nigerians are still deprived of internet access, despite the fast pace of internet adoption in the country.
Danbatta, who made the disclosure this week while addressing delegates at this year’s International Telecoms Union (ITU) annual regional capacity building workshop, which was hosted by Nigeria in Abuja, attributed the lack of internet access to the rise in the country’s access gap, which he said, had reached 200 recently.
The ITU is the specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for telecoms industry regulation.
Disturbed by the number of Nigerians that lacked access to the internet, Danbatta called on the ITU to examine existing African policies and change policies that pertain to internet governance, with a view to making them more impactful for Nigerians and Africans.
While presenting the status of Nigeria’s internet penetration, Danbatta told the ITU delegates that Nigeria still has 200 access gaps that are currently depriving close to 40 million people, access to internet and further explained that the country needed to put certain policies in place to address internet governance.
“We need to look at what we can do to fast track blocking of these access gaps because unless and until we do so, many of our citizens will continue to live without access to the internet especially the right kind of internet connectivity, which is the high speed internet that is mostly facilitated by broadband infrastructure,” Danbatta said.
He urged the ITU delegates to make important suggestions on what could be done to change African enabling policies and institutions, with a view to further deepen internet penetration in Africa and Nigeria
Nigeria recorded 102.8 million mobile data subscriptions as at June this year, representing the level of internet penetration in the country.
MTN takes the lead with 38.9 million active mobile internet subscriptions. It is closely followed by Airtel with 26.7 million active internet subscribers and Globacom 26.6 million internet users. Also, 9mobile has 10.6 million internet subscribers.
Also speaking at the forum, the representative of ITU Regional Director for Africa, Marcelino Tayob, said: “Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and internet in particular have changed the way we live, work, study and entertain ourselves. The internet is present practically in all sectors of the economy and the society.”
According to Tayob, the forum is an annual event which ITU office for Africa organises every year with the objective of providing a platform to African countries to share experiences, strengthen their knowledge and raise awareness on matters that concern the theme selected for the year.
Internet governance, he stressed, remained one of the priorities to be addressed by the ITU capacity building programme with focus on developing at least the developing countries, which is in line with the recommendation of global capacity building held in Nairobi 2016.
The Administrator, Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), Dr. Ike Adinde, highlighted that the workshop was a capacity building event organised under the auspices of the ITU with DBI as co-host, which seeks to explore how Africa can benefit from Internet Governance.
“Today the internet and communication technology are driving major developments as major anchors of social development and Africa must be part of this development,” Adinde said, adding that Digital Bridge Institute is Nigeria’s foremost ICT institute established by NCC for the purpose of building capacity in the ICT space and it has done very well in training and capacity building in the last decade.
The whole idea of the workshop, Dambatta further said, revolved around making sure there is internet connectivity in equitable distribution across Nigeria’s 774 Local Governments Areas with a population close to 200 million.