IT connectivity in Nigeria has been growing rapidly in recent years. Today, the country has about 9.8 Tbps of broadband connectivity terminating in Lagos, which is a significant increase compared to less than 3 Tbps in 2010. However, in terms of last mile connectivity, Nigeria still experiences significant gaps.
A large proportion of Nigerians live in rural areas and most of these rural communities do not have access to basic ICT services. Most broadband operators do not consistently offer 256 kbps connections and service reliability remains poor. Also, many urban areas are either not served or underserved.
Nigeria currently has 25,000 base stations, microwave radios covering 169,000 km, and 35,000 km of fibre-optic cables. This is significantly less than the infrastructure stock of comparable countries. South Africa, for example, has 4 times as many base stations as Nigeria does and 12 times more base stations per million people. India has 20 times more kilometres of fibre-optic cables and 7 times more per km2.
Nigeria’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) strengths include ample coastline and continental shelf, serving as landing points for submarine cables, more-than-adequate undersea cable capacity and capability, and substantial indigenous satellite capacity and coverage.
At the same time, provision of connectivity services is costly due to lack of consistent energy supply, high maintenance costs resulting from fibre-cuts occurring due to theft and poor urban and regional planning, accessibility and security issues, as well as complexities in obtaining right of way. This results in low penetration and slow connectivity speeds and an acute need for additional terrestrial distribution infrastructure.
The priority for the sector is to ensure provision of universal access and delivery of quality services through the nationwide development of ICT infrastructure and services. Of prime importance are basic voice/data services and last mile connectivity for broadband internet access.
Moreover, NigComSat is an important element of Nigeria’s ICT network, but has been considered in more detail under the Security and Vital Registration section.
Nigeria’s mobile penetration which is currently 63 per cent rate ranks low, compared to that of similar countries elsewhere. Brazil, with a similar-sized population, has an average of 1.4 lines per person – more than twice that of Nigeria. Also, Nigeria’s 63 per cent mobile penetration is not evenly distributed, because most lines are concentrated in the urban and sub-urban areas. Although it is positive that the country’s mobile subscriber base recently crossed the 100 million mark, this also increase the need for further capacity expansion by mobile network operators.
Internet and Broadband
Although there are some initiatives aimed at deploying internet and broadband in Nigeria, many challenges remain, especially with the deployment of a national fibre-optic network to distribute the approximately 10 terabytes of capacity already delivered to Nigeria.
Nigeria has more internet users than any other African country, accounting for 32 per cent of internet users in Africa. However, Nigeria stands fifth in Africa in terms of internet penetration, with 30 per cent of the population using the internet – most of them from urban areas.
Of all internet access, 75 per cent is served by mobile broadband, at relatively high cost. The Presidential Committee on Broadband recently redefined broadband as a minimum speed of 1.5 mbps, meaning that many service providers are not consistently offering up to 256 kbps, most areas are significantly underserved.
Therefore, there is need to accelerate the pace of ongoing efforts, and also to introduce new initiatives to address these and other challenges.
E-governance is the application of ICT for delivering government services, exchange of information, communication transactions, integration of various stand-alone systems and services from Government-to-Citizens (G2C), Government-to-Business (G2B), Government-to-Government (G2G), as well as back-office processes and interactions within the entire government framework.
Currently E-governance is very limited in Nigeria, with less than a quarter of government institutions computerised. Even though about 30 per cent of MDAs have an online presence, less than 5 per cent of actual government services are available online. Numerous initiatives are currently under way to address the low e-governance rate. In order for Nigeria to achieve its goal stipulated in Vision 20: 2020 “to irreversibly consider the application and promotion of ICT strategy to facilitate its rapid growth and development”, Nigeria will need to increase its e-governance presence.