Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) Nigeria Coalition has said for Nigeria as a giant of Africa to successfully achieve thriving digital economy, priority must be given to making critical digital infrastructures such as Internet Service provider (ISP) devices, mobile devices as well as other internet enabled tools available and accessible to all her citizens including the underserved ones.
Dearth of digital infrastructures amongst other critical challenges hindering the broadband/internet penetration and broadband market in Nigeria were brought to fore, forming the main discourse at the Coalition meeting which held in Abuja yesterday.
Speaking as a Panelist at the Coalition meeting, Olusola Teniola, current National Coordinator A4AI Nigeria stated that making critical digital infrastructure available and provision of digital literacy are key to thriving digital economy.
“Based on the key indicators for digital economy, Nigeria is currently being faced with two major challenges which are digital infrastructural deficit and digital literacy”
“Currently, more than 31 million Nigerians do not have access to Internet probably because they not have or cannot afford wireless mobile device or internet enable devices. That is pure dearth of infrastructure” he alluded.
In addressing some of these challenges, Teniola added that there would be need for professionals amongst the legislators who understand the digital realms to proactively formulate policies that would promote digital entrepreneurship, thereby fasttracking Nigeria’s full transitioning into digital economy.
Onica Makwakwa, A4AI, Head of Africa, in her presentation at the event emphasized on creating stronger competition in the broadband markets in Nigeria as this would facilitate passive and active infrastructure sharing amongst existing operators such as Telcos and ISPs, supporting open access networks and allocating spectrum in a fair and transparent manner for the greatest public benefit and for rapid transitioning to digital economy.
She further expressed her dismay that no African nation made it to the Top 10 List of the recent 2019 Affordability Report List.
“This is actually my first time of not seeing any African nations on the top ten affordability list at global report. It is quite devastating for me”
“This goes to show that we really have a lot of work to do in this regard in Africa’ she remarked.
Speaking on dynamic competitive market for mobile broadband, she said this would give consumers a wider choice of services and pressures operators to lower prices and improve.
She added that despite the competition there is also need for the regulators to prioritise consumer rights protection.
“Regulators must be made to understand that consumers rights also deserve to be protected” she said.
Actionable recommendations were also shared and compiled by the experts present at the meeting.