Despite boasting a less than 50 per cent broadband penetration, Nigeria’s data usage increased by 413.79 per cent as 41.38 million subscribers joined the nation’s Internet population in four years, according to data from the Nigerian Communications Commission.
Nigeria’s Internet data usage increased from 68,154.12 terabytes in 2018 to 350,165.39 terabytes in 2021 based on industry statistics from the NCC.
Within the time under review, broadband penetration increased from 19.97 per cent (38.12 million) in January 2018 to 40.88 per cent (78.04 million).
GSM Internet subscribers increased from 100.23 million in January 2018 to 141.62 million. Despite its low broadband penetration, Nigeria has made strides in expanding its broadband capacity.
When data usage increased from 68,154.12TB in December 2018 to 125,149.86TB as of December 2019, the NCC had said, “The increase in data usage is directly linked to the increased Broadband penetration in the country within the year.
‘The commission provided the necessary regulator support for Operators to implement the various initiatives within the year that increased data usage in the country.”
In 2020, when data consumption increased from 123,648TB in December 2019 to 205,880.4TB as of December 2020, the commission added, “The increase in data usage is directly linked to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted normal activities and most functions had to be held virtually including schools, corporate meetings etc.”
Increasing smartphone and 4G coverage have been linked to the recent growth in the nation’s data usage. Data consumption grew from 205,880.4TB in December 2020 to 350,165.39TB in December 2021.
The Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria, Karl Toriola, recently disclosed that about half of the company’s subscribers own smartphones.
The number of people using 4G has increased from 12.76 million in December 2018 to 43.51 million in December 2021.
Internet connection is backboned by mobile broadband in Nigeria. The World Bank had in its November update for the nation said the nation has the potential to accelerate its digital transformation by leveraging its relatively strong mobile broadband infrastructure.
It had said, “Nigeria has the largest mobile market in Sub-Saharan Africa, supported by strong mobile broadband infrastructure and improved international connectivity.”
Earlier, the Chief Operating Officer, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Ajibola Olude, had told The PUNCH that the avenue for data usage has increased.
The president, Association of Telecoms Cable TV and Internet Subscribers, Sina Bilesanmi, stated, “There is a difference between making calls and data usage of the subscriber. Also, people do not have a choice but to migrate online.”
In the National Development Plan 2021 – 2025, the Federal Government disclosed that only 473 of the 774 local governments in the nation have Internet access.
In the National Broadband Plan 2020-2025, the nation disclosed its plan to increase broadband coverage to 90 per cent of its population.