During an appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today, Bosun Tijani, Nigerian Minister of Communications, Innovations, and Digital Economy, shed light on the current state of the nation’s Fifth-Generation (5G) network. While acknowledging its presence, Tijani emphasized the unequal spread of essential infrastructure necessary for its implementation throughout Nigeria. He acknowledged that 5G does exist in certain parts of Nigeria, when asked about its presence. Nevertheless, he emphasized the lack of consistent nationwide infrastructure to ensure a smooth and flawless 5G experience.
Tijani highlighted the potential consequences on service quality, mentioning that if subscribers venture into areas with insufficient infrastructure, the quality of their 5G service might deteriorate. He confirmed the presence of 5G in Nigeria, emphasizing that telecom companies possess the required licenses. Tackling the immense mission of installing fiber optic cables throughout Nigeria, the minister provided an update on the ongoing advancements, indicating that the team has covered approximately 35 to 40 kilometers thus far. The ultimate objective is to extend this network to a remarkable length of 95,000 kilometers.
Widespread connectivity will result in public improvements.
Assessing the financial implications of this audacious endeavour, he projected that a hefty investment ranging from $1.5 billion to $2 billion would be necessary to connect the entirety of Nigeria. His enthusiasm for his term was palpable as he shared his ambitious plan to achieve nationwide connectivity within the first four years of the current administration. With sheer determination, he revealed a meticulous strategy involving the connection of vital institutions like schools, hospitals, and government offices through the implementation of fiber cables.
The minister emphasized that this widespread connectivity would be a catalyst for revolutionary improvements in the provision of public services. The minister’s dedication showcases the government’s overarching plan to boost digital infrastructure and propel technological progress to serve the people of Nigeria. Meanwhile, in July 2023, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reported that active internet subscriptions in Nigeria had reached 159.5 million across mobile, fixed, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) networks. This marked a marginal increase of 0.02 percent compared to the 159.4 million recorded in June.
Current stats of telecom performance in Nigeria.
Furthermore, the dominant players in the internet service provider landscape included mobile giants such as MTN, Airtel, Globalcom, and 9mobile, collectively holding 158.9 million internet subscriptions. In contrast, other providers struggled to achieve a million connections. As of July, Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) operators, including Smile Communications and Ntel, accounted for 326,241 internet connections. Additionally, other Internet Service Providers (ISP) contributed to 204,810 internet subscriptions, based on data from December 2022, according to the NCC.
At the onset of 2023, Nigeria boasted a substantial internet user base, totaling 122.5 million individuals, reflecting an internet penetration rate of 55.4 percent. Social media engagement was prevalent, with 31.60 million users in January 2023, constituting 14.3 percent of the country’s overall population. Furthermore, the mobile landscape in Nigeria showcased extensive connectivity, with a remarkable 193.9 million cellular mobile connections active in early 2023, accounting for a significant 87.7 percent of the total population. These statistics underscore the widespread adoption and reliance on digital technologies within the Nigerian populace.
FG should prioritize internet penetration rather than 5G development.
In Nigeria’s pursuit of technological advancement, prioritizing internet penetration over immediate 5G expansion presents a strategic and inclusive approach. While 5G technology offers enhanced connectivity, the nation currently faces challenges related to infrastructure and accessibility. Allocating resources to bolster internet penetration addresses a broader demographic, ensuring a more equitable distribution of digital access. By focusing on expanding affordable and reliable internet services, Nigeria can bridge the existing digital divide and empower a larger segment of the population. This approach not only promotes social inclusion but also stimulates economic growth, as increased internet penetration facilitates e-commerce, online education, and telemedicine. Building a strong foundation of internet accessibility lays the groundwork for seamless 5G integration in the future, fostering a more sustainable and inclusive digital landscape for all Nigerians.