Internet Society (ISOC) a global non-profit organisation working to ensure the Internet remains a force for good for everyone has called for accelerated action to further Internet development in Nigeria and throughout the African region.
The organisation lauded the progress made by stakeholders in expanding access throughout the continent while encouraging more collaborative efforts to bridge the digital divide.
Dawit Bekele, regional vice president of the Internet Society in Africa, said Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest growth in global Internet penetration, increasing from less than 1 percent in 2000 to 30 percent today.
Bekele during the ongoing World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) 2022 taking place in Kigali said between 2019 and 2021 Internet use in Africa jumped by 23 percent, adding that despite this impressive growth, there is still a coverage gap of over 840 million people who don’t have access to reliable and affordable Internet access.
Bekele speaking on the theme ‘Connecting the unconnected to achieve sustainable development”, indicated that Nigeria is Africa’s largest ICT market, with 82 percent of the continent’s telecoms subscribers and 29 percent of Internet usage and is uniquely positioned to reap the benefits of the digital economy.
According to Bekele, Nigeria is also home to several high-growth digital companies that provide hopeful examples of the country’s digital potential, with ICTs contributing 12.5 percent to the GDP in 2020.
Dawit Bekele further said Nigeria’s progress in internet usage can be attributed to the government adopting policies that make it easier for an Internet ecosystem to thrive.
“The government not only made it easier for different service providers to develop submarine cables, but they also adopted data protection regulations that spurred confidence and attracted international service providers. Internet Exchange Points (IXPN) grew from carrying just 300 Megabits per second (Mbps) to peak traffic of 125 Gbps in 2020, and the cost savings increased forty times to USD 40 million per year”, Bekele said.
He further said that as the organisation celebrates its 30th anniversary as a global nonprofit advocating for an open, globally-connected Internet, the organisation in Africa has helped build community networks in South Africa, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Namibia, Morocco, Senegal, and Ethiopia.
Commenting further he said at WTDC, the organisation will be making a pledge to support 100 complementary solutions to connect the unconnected, and to train 10,000 people to build and maintain Internet infrastructure, all by 2025 as part of the Partner2Connect Digital Coalition, an initiative led by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) that aims to foster meaningful connectivity and digital transformation in the hardest-to-connect communities around the world.
“The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated the value of Internet connectivity which has been an essential lifeline for the continuity of business, healthcare, education, government, and other critical activities. We applaud the significant investments in the last decades to develop Internet infrastructure, which have made the Internet available to more people across the continent. However, the pandemic also highlights the digital divide that remains, particularly in rural, remote and even urban areas around the world,” said Dawit Bekele.