Nigeria's $25bn investment achieves 6% internet penetration

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

Over the last one decade, total investments into the telecoms sector have hit $25 billion but this huge investment has only assured internet penetration of 6%, Nigeria's Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson, has said.

She told Bloomberg TV during her recent visit to Silicon Valley in the US to showcase the potential of the nation’s information communication technology (ICT) sector, that a lot more funding is required if penetration is to be deepened further, adding that government will focus on the provision of the physical infrastructure and place emphasis on affordability too.

She said her mission was not to create another Silicon Valley in Nigeria but to take some lessons away from the experience of the US, especially how Silicon Valley has helped to build big ICT companies.

“Nigeria is a fast growing ICT industry. It has been growing at 20 per cent over the last five years,” she said, lamenting that local content has been so insignificant.

“What we are trying to do is create more Nigerian companies. We are here at Silicon Valley to learn how Silicon Valley has helped to create some of the largest ICT companies in the world. What is it that they have done? We are not trying to create another Silicon Valley but trying to see what they have done (in order to domesticate that in Nigeria to create more local companies,” she said.

According to her, while mobile subscription has passed the 100 million mark, the same could not be said of internet penetration, which she put at 45 million out of a population of 170 million people.

“Internet penetration is important.  Obviously we have a long way to go. So for us, the priority is first to connect the physical infrastructure and then we talk about access and affordability,” she said, lamenting that 70 per cent of the population are still the rural folks without “significant earning capacity.”

She said after putting the physical infrastructure in place, the next priority will be to drive affordability which will impact on accessibility because a lot of the youths have been excluded from e-health, e-education and other benefits associated with the internet.

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