The Global System for Mobile Telecommunications Association (GSMA), has said modernising regulation and policy reform will be crucial to boosting Nigeria’s digital economy, and accelerating Internet access for millions through increased mobile broadband penetration.
GSMA, which represents the interest of over 800 operators and vendors across the globe, said mobile, is crucial to transforming the economy into a digital one.
Speaking at the launch of a report, “Spotlight on Nigeria: Delivering a Digital Future,” in conjunction with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), GSMA disclosed that the mobile market in Nigeria makes an important contribution to the economy.
It said the mobile industry contributed $21 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017, representing 5.5 per cent of Nigeria’s total GDP, and resulted in the creation of nearly 500,000 direct and indirect jobs.
The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Office (EVC/CEO), NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said currently, mobile communication is a cardinal tool of economic development, growth and integration, and is a key enabler of productivity across economies and societies.
“The mobile industry is not only a significant contributor to the economic activities of Nigeria, but also towards the growth of other sectors of the economy. The Nigerian Communications Commission has been, and continues to play a key role in the development of mobile communication in Nigeria, and I am delighted to be part of this event today. This provides an avenue for regulators, operators, investors, and other relevant stakeholders to examine, share and constructively exchange ideas,” he stated.
Commenting, Head, sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA, Akinwale Goodluck, said mobile connectivity has already improved the welfare of millions of Nigerians, opening the door to new digital possibilities and powering the country’s economic development.
“For Nigeria to take full advantage of the next phase of its digital transformation, it’s vital that collaboration between industry and government enables the right policy environment for millions more to benefit from ultra-fast mobile broadband. If policies don’t keep pace with the needs of society and technological innovation, there is a risk that citizens will be left behind and productivity and competitiveness will suffer,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the report revealed that growth in the adoption of digital services by government, businesses and consumers is having a positive impact on daily life in Nigeria.
According to GSMA, for the majority of Nigerians, mobile broadband is the first and only technology for accessing the Internet, enabling better access to health, education and commercial opportunities, amongst other public services.It noted that smartphone adoption has already risen to over 53 million connections, and 49 per cent of Nigerians are currently connected by mobile technology, compared to less than one per cent who has a fixed-line connection.
However, the report concludes that there is still broad scope for Nigeria to increase its mobile penetration. Although more Nigerians are getting access to mobile broadband, the country lags regional peers in 4G adoption. Helping to accelerate adoption would enable more advanced services and create bigger societal impacts.
With increased spectrum harmonisation and licensing reform, the country’s mobile penetration is forecast to rise to 55 per cent of the population by 2025, with 70 per cent having 3G connectivity and 17 per cent having access to 4G networks. Currently, only 44 per cent of mobile subscribers in Nigeria are using 3G technology and 4 per cent are using 4G technology, compared to over 18 per cent 4G penetration in South Africa and 16 per cent in Angola.