New Telegraph

Internet affordability: Nigeria ranks 19th in global index

…price still above UN’s recommendation

Nigeria has been ranked 19 out of 72 countries surveyed for internet affordability in 2020. According to the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI)’s 2020 Affordability Drivers Index (ADI) report, the country scored 66.19 out of 100 in terms of the policy, infrastructure, and how people are able to access the internet in the country. In Africa, Nigeria is the 4th country with the most affordable internet, coming behind Morocco, Botswana, and Mauritius, which rank 11th, 14th and 16th globally in that order.

This, however, does not show progress as the country failed to move from the same 19th position it occupied in 2019, though with a lower score of 61.13. While noting that the ADI scored countries across two main policy groups of the extent to which internet infrastructure has been deployed, as well as the policy framework in place to encourage future infrastructure expansion; and current broadband adoption rates, as well as the policy framework in place to enable equitable access, A4AI said high ADI’s scores correlate with reduced internet costs on both the industry side and for consumers. Meanwhile, going by the United Nations Broadband Commission’s definition of affordability, cost of internet is still high in Nigeria.

The commission defines internet affordability as ‘1 for 2’, that is, 1GB of mobile broadband costing no more than 2 per cent of the average monthly income. Based on the current average cost of 1GB of data in Nigeria, which is N1,000 and the N30, 000 minimum wage, data cost in Nigeria is 3.3 per cent of the monthly average income. A4AI also noted in the 2020 Affordability report that several countries still have a long way to go to reach this threshold, especially among low-income countries.

“In countries like Malawi, Honduras, and Nepal, 1GB can cost from 6 per cent to as much as nearly 16 per cent of a person’s total income. The number sits even higher in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” the body stated in the report. According to the report, 57 out of the 72 countries surveyed are yet to meet the UN Broadband Commission’s ‘1 for 2’ affordability threshold.

“1GB is the minimum that allows someone to use the internet effectively; yet, the high cost to connect means billions of people missing out on even this basic allowance. Almost half of the world’s population remains with no internet access, and many others lack the meaningful connectivity that would allow them to engage in activities like online learning, remote working, and telehealth services,” it said.

The global coalition for affordable internet added that while Africa remains the region with the lowest average ADI score, this year it saw the fastest improvement (6.7 per cent since 2019), with countries improving planning, better spectrum management and supporting programmes to narrow the digital gender gap. “Mobile broadband prices have fallen consistently among countries within the Affordability Drivers Index, with the average cost of 1GB data declining by more than half since 2015, from 7.0 per cent to 3.1 per cent of average monthly income. While declining prices can be explained in part by general improvements in technology and other efficiencies, strong government policy is key to reducing costs and mak-ing sure that internet access is affordable to all,” the group stated in the report. According to A4AI, the three countries topping this year’s Index – Malaysia, Colombia, and Costa Rica – all stand out with the highest three scores for national broadband planning. All three meet the UN Broadband Commission’s ‘1 for 2’ affordability threshold — 1GB data for no more than two per cent of average monthly income.

The body urged governments to bring down the cost of internet access with more investments, noting that its analysis has found that $428 billion additional funding is needed over the next 10 years to connect everyone to quality broadband by 2030. “But to be successful, this funding needs to be paired with effective policy, strong planning and effective implementation, which includes urgent investments in the digital skills, content and enabling policy frameworks that are critical to support access to meaningful connectivity. Governments need robust national broadband plans to achieve this,” A4AI said.

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