New GSMA report on Nigeria doubts NCC’s 31% broadband penetration, others
Fresh controversy has engulfed the entire statistical figures rolled out by the telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) earlier in January on Nigeria’s achievement of 30.9% broadband penetration following the latest GSMA report on Nigeria and entire West Africa.
Following stakeholders’ queries over its claims that Nigeria had surpassed its 30 per cent set target in the National Broadband Plan (NBP) 2013-2018 of broadband penetration by December 2018, NCC in January made some documents available to journalists arguing that in November 2018, there were 168,729,005 mobile “GSM” subscribers in the country, of which 108,457,051 were subscribed to Internet access services provided by the major operators.
NCC noted that “In terms of broadband services, a total of 58,965,478 connected to the Internet through 3G and 4G networks (including those provided by the LTE-only service providers such as Smile and nTel),” it added.
NCC disclosed that this distinction was critical because Nigerians predominantly rely on mobile networks for Internet access, including broadband networks since the fixed broadband access, which would have been led by NITEL, is now non-existent.
It explained that broadband penetration is typically measured by the percentage of total population with access to broadband networks out of every hundred, arguing further that “So, if we take the total active broadband subscription figure of 58,965,478 and divide it by a population of 190,886,311 (using United Nations (UN’s) projection of December 2017), that comes to 30.9 per cent penetration.”
NCC therefore ruled that its assertion that Nigeria attained 30.9 per cent broadband penetration was logical and supported by available data in its custody.
However, in what can best be seen as a marked difference, GSMA Mobile Economy West Africa 2019 report released recently said only 29 per cent of the Nigerian population were mobile Internet users.
The report further put the mobile Internet gap in the country at 30 per cent, and averred that about 41 per cent of the Nigerian population had access to mobile network broadband but didn’t subscribe to mobile Internet services.
This particular aspect of the GSMA report also created some levels of doubts on the January claims of NCC which noted that “in November 2018, there were 168,729,005 mobile “GSM” subscribers in the country, of which 108,457,051 were subscribed to Internet access services provided by the major operators.”
This is because 108,457,051 out of 168,729,005 cannot be 41%.
Also the new GSMA report said at the end of 2018 in West Africa, there were around 100 million mobile Internet users in the region, representing an increase of 19 million over the previous year when NCC report claimed that only Nigeria had over 100 million internet subscribers within the period under review excluding other West African states.