Information Technology Experts has tasked Nigerian Government on digitising registration, processes and certification in order to promote Internet Usage in the country.
The GSM Association has linked the availability of value-adding content online and digital literacy to improved usage of the Internet in sub-Saharan Africa.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started spreading across the world, there had been 20 per cent increase in demand for data and voice services and more pressure on the networks, the Head of Africa at GSMA, Mr Akinwale Goodluck, has said.
He spoke at a Huawei online media interview with journalists across Africa, adding however that more people could be compelled to come online if relevant content was available.
He urged African governments, including Nigeria, to digitise their registration and processes online as there were populations who would only come online for such purposes.
According to Goodluck, digital literacy is also another reason for Internet usage gap.
“The government needs to bring processes, registration and certifications online to encourage people to come online. I believe that if the content is right, profitable, rewarding and people see value in it, more people will come online,” the GSMA boss added.
According to him, GSMA Intelligence has discovered that infrastructure and availability of locally relevant content/services led to the highest improvements in Internet adoption between 2017 and 2018 on the back of significant investments in 3G and 4G network expansion.
“Finding relevant content that will be compelling enough for people to come online is one of the greatest barriers to digital inclusion. Some people cannot afford to come online only for entertainment. They need to get content that adds value and is socially relevant for them to come online. This can be achieved through collaboration between the government and mobile network operators,” Goodluck added.
The Nigerian government and stakeholders in the industry have set out to bridge this gap by incentivising local assembly of smartphones with pioneer status and other waivers of duties, taxes, and levies – with a target of getting smartphones to Nigerians at below $25 by the year 2025.
“Effective utilisation of broadband services requires the use of capable devices such as smartphone, tablets, PCs etc. The cost of these devices is typically higher than what a large segment of the population can afford,” the plan stated.
The Nigerian National Broadband Plan for 2020 to 2025 also recognised that low usage and adoption of Internet services could be caused by the high cost of services and access devices, low digital literacy, lack of local and relevant content and poor perception of broadband value, amongst others.
The plan put together by a team of experts led by the Chief Executive Officer of MainOne, Funke Opeke, urged the government to mobilise resources towards the development of digital educational, vocational and entrepreneurial content in local languages for the empowerment Nigerians.
“The Federal Government needs to push for localisation of internet content within the shores of Nigeria. This would lower the cost of Internet access, improve the quality of service, reduce capital flight, create job opportunities, and protect the sovereignty of the nation,” the NNBP stated.
They said adequate digital literacy programmes should be embarked upon to enlighten every Nigerian on the relevance of broadband to their lives and day-to-day activities.
For many, the only access they have to the Internet is through their mobile devices as seen in a GSMA study which showed that most of the growing Internet users, especially from the fast-growing markets were from mobile devices only with no access to personal computers.
While acknowledging that broadband infrastructure was another challenge, Goodluck said many African governments were mitigating this challenge as there had been an organic expansion of broadband infrastructure and network sharing in rural areas.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, he observed there would be increased investments in e-commerce, cash-transactions driven by mobile money and powered by telcos.
According to him, many organisations will come up with app-only solutions that can be accessed via mobile devices.
He noted that already, there was a huge expansion of the app and digital content economy to non-English speaking markets and video streaming companies like Netflix Streaming was at the forefront of this trend, as it launched a mobile-only tariff in India.