Internet access is now a critical tool for development and a big business in Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa. Though many Nigerians are connected via mobile phone, only 33% of Nigerian uses the Internet and connection costs 39% of average monthly income according to USAID. Affordable internet access is empowerment can people can benefit from social good .
Will Nigerian ever get affordable internet?
With the newly published National Broadband Plan, Nigerian government through the Ministry for Communication Technology signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), a coalition of private sector, public sector, and civil society organizations who have come together to advance the shared aim of affordable access to both mobile and fixed-line Internet in developing countries.
On the eve of Web’s 25th anniversary, the 11 th of March 2014, the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) held a National Multi-stakeholders forum to discuss the key policy and regulatory challenges to greater Internet affordability in Nigeria. Focused on developing a national coalition that will work to overcome t internet access challenges, the event was also aimed at developing an Action Plan around on key priority areas while exploring the overall investment needed to put internet access in the hands of millions across Nigeria. The event brought together government representatives, technology innovators, researchers and Civil Society organizations, young social entrepreneurs to discuss policy change, dialogue and develop an action plan. Declaring the event opened the Minister for Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson declared ICT as a Critical National Infrastructure. Also speaking, Ms. Sonia Jorge, Executive Director of A4AI said A4AI is working in Africa, with collaborators to unlock the power across the continent and place it in the hands of those for whom it remains out of reach.
Nigeria is one of the fastest growing markets in Africa for mobile internet while youth internet-based entrepreneurship is also growing, a single solution or player in broadband will not solve overwhelming challenges to increased access. While this is a good the opportunity for Nigeria to align itself with members of the Global ICT industry as well the ‘unified voice and coordinated focus’ that is represented by the A4AI, I am hoping that this new coalition will consolidate support for, as well as help in building upon ongoing efforts to increase internet access in Nigeria to 30 percent by 2018.
More collaboration with stakeholders, better collaboration amongst govt. agencies , better ownership of programmes and good regulatory environments that reduce cost structures for providers will stimulates investment, increase affordability and encourage Internet use however, lack of end user education, Pricing transparency, safeguards for anticompetitive behavior, multiple taxation and unfriendly policies were some of the challenges affecting affordable internet access.
It is good to see Nigeria social good communities actively participating in the discussions around internet access and how access can support social good. Blossom Nnodim, Founder of Digital Media Development Initiatives, a non- profit organization believes that the newly formed coalition will help to strengthening the concept of social good in Nigeria. She while noted that event was powered by women; from the Minister of Communications Technology to the Executive Director of A4AI and the Africa Regional Coordinator of Web Foundation, She hopes that more women will be able to afford internet access and be empowered and connected through it.
“The A4AI event was very informative and provided pointers towards the future of internet accessibility and affordability in Nigeria…Either for profit or for social good .” – Bankole Oloruntoba (Head, enspire incubator, ATV).
(Esther Agbarakwe, whom many of her friends in Nigeria call “estherclimate”, is a passionate development activist working on reproductive health and rights, environmental Justice, gender main-streaming, youth development, and strategic advocacy on sustainable development. She tweets via @estherclimate)
This post was originally posted at www.plussocialgood.org. It was republished on this blog with the express permission of the author, Esther Agbarakwe. This permission was sought and given via a series of one on one conversation that ensued between the author and I.