Internet browsing website company, Mozilla has provided an insight into why internet access is still a challenge in Nigeria. In a Mozilla backed research carried out by Research ICT Africa, they revealed that significant barriers to internet access remains in four African countries – Rwanda, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
The research also aims to understand from a comparative perspective how the citizens use the internet when data is subsidized and when it is not.
Here is an excerpt on their findings from Nigeria;
Mozilla-backed research reveals affordability a barrier to internet access in Nigeria
Zero rated services are still relatively new to the Nigerian market, with Airtel launching Facebook’s Free Basics and Facebook Flex only last year. Awareness and use of zero rating remains low in Nigeria, a country which enjoys some of the cheapest data prices in Africa. Results of the research included the following findings:
- Many rural users see the internet as their access to the civilized world and the gateway to the places around the globe where they have friends and family.
- Overall awareness and use of the internet has gained traction especially as social interactions, business or career enabler, and majority of participants, whether in rural or urban areas, rank the purchase of data high on their personal expense list.
- There is a general belief that mobile network operators charge a hidden tariff, and whatever airtime is on the phone will be eventually deducted by the operator if one subscribes to a subsidized service.
- Many non-users want to use a “big phone” (a smartphone) and would rather wait until they can afford one than use a more limited version of the internet.
- Though the price of brand new smartphones keeps dropping and they can be bought for as low as $20, affordability challenges persist.
“Even in a country with some of the lowest rates for data and devices in Africa, the cost of buying a smartphone in Nigeria is still a challenge for many,” said Dr Alison Gillwald, Executive Director or Research ICT Africa. “Affordability gets disproportionate attention, but we need to do much more to improve digital literacy and supply side issues like network quality and speed.”
“This research demonstrates that Nigerians want access to all of the internet, not just some parts of it,” said Jochai Ben-Avie, Senior Global Policy Manager at Mozilla. “If we’re to bring all the internet to all people, we need to do more to improve digital literacy and understanding of the internet, especially among low-income individuals and those in rural and deep rural communities. At Mozilla we believe in equal rating for all internet users so that this shared global resource is not held hostage by the wealthy.”
Despite the renewed drive by internet service providers to increase data cost in Nigeria, research shows the current cost of internet data is still a major barrier to access the internet in Nigeria and is increasing the divide between urban and rural users of the internet.