The Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, has said over 7.78 terabyte of internet capacity is lying untapped at the shores of the country, yet internet penetration in the country remains abysmally low. According to her, unless the capacity was connected to the hinterlands through last-mile connectivity, it would remain a challenge for the country in getting the capacity inland and that internet penetration in the country would also remain a challenge.
Johnson who dropped the hint in Abuja the at a ministerial presentation to industry stakeholders, said the number of internet users was about 52 million, but that internet subscription is about 3.6 per cent, while internet penetration is 33 per cent.
Broadband penetration, she added, was just 6 per cent and that the average internet download speed is 1.38megabytes per second (Mbps).
Glo 1, Main One, MTN West African Cable System (WACS), have all landed their submarine cables at the shores of the country, costing them huge sums of money to connect submarine cables from London to Nigeria, with several landing stations at some African countries, yet broadband penetration remains low because of their inability to connect the cables through underground to connect homes and offices in the hinterlands.
The situation, according to the minister, hindered the Nigerian Information Communications Technology (ICT) Industry from leveraging ICT for socio-economic development, such that most Nigerians are excluded from the growth and development that could be aided by information communications technology.
In order to create an enabling environment for the accelerated roll-out of a robust reliable and cost effective ICT infrastructure to increase citizen access to ICTs efficient spectrum allocation, the Minister listed certain factors that must be addressed to include: Approval of Federal Right of Way; Site Approval for Base Stations; State and Local Government Right of Way approvals; Multiple and Illegal Levies and Taxes; Indiscriminate closure of base stations and wilful damage to fibre cables among others.
Speaking on the achievements in connecting Nigeria with cost effective ICT infrastructure, since the creation of the Ministry nine months ago, the minister said in order to complement fibre connectivity and provide more bandwidth for the nation, the Ministry successfully launched NigComSat-1R satellite on 19th December 2011. NIGCOMSAT-1R, she said, “is a hybrid satellite for Broadcast, Telecommunications and navigational services with footprints in over thirty-five African countries, parts of Europe, and parts of Asia. According to her, the satellite would be used to accelerate broadband penetration in difficult-to-reach areas.
In the area of bridging the digital divide, the Minister said the Ministry has successfully extending the benefits of ICTs to all Nigerians regardless of demographic or socio-economic status.
She listed some of the achievements to include School Connect Programme (SCP) like School Access Programme (SAP) for Secondary Schools; Deployment of PCs and Internet access to 766 secondary schools; Tertiary Institution Access Programme (TIAP); Deployment of PCs and Internet access to 193 tertiary institutions; Deployment of IT centres in 240 locations across all the six geo-political zones; 146 Community Communications Centres deployed across the country; Collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to drive digital inclusion and financial inclusion using the post office infrastructure, among others.
In the area of connecting government with ICT infrastructure, the minister said there has been more comprehensive and integrated use of information communications technology in government to provide better response to citizens’ demands, improve service delivery and make administration more efficient.
According to her, 382 federal ministries departments and agencies (MDAs) are connected in Abuja and other parts of the country and that over 86,089 email addresses have been deployed for Government on .gov.ng domain names, with 250 websites hosted on .gov.ng platform.