By Adeyemi Adepetun
ONLY 12.1 per cent of the Nigerian population currently enjoys Internet services (Meaningful Connectivity) quality in the country, this is according to an indepth research by the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI).
A4AI, which explained that 81 per cent meaningful connectivity gap exists in Nigeria, claimed that only 6.6 per cent of the rural population and 16.4 per cent of the urban have good Internet service.
This is coming as broadband penetration in Nigeria hits 42.3 per cent , while users increased to 80.7 million in March. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) statistics, which revealed this, also informed that Internet users via the narrow band also rose to 145.8 million within the same period.
But A4AI explained that meaningful connectivity is a policy framework and Internet access metric to understand the quality of Internet access someone has.
To define and measure meaningful connectivity, A4AI used four different indicators that relate to the quality and functionality of an Internet connection: a 4G connection; ownership of a smartphone ownership; an unlimited broadband connection at home, work or place of study; and daily use.
With focus on nine countries, which are Columbia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa, A4AI said only 10 per cent of the total population in the countries surveyed are meaningfully connected to the Internet. It said the number rose to 14 per cent in urban areas and falls to a mere five per cent in rural areas, adding that the share of people meaningfully connected ranges greatly within the nine countries surveyed. For instance, it said Colombia, around one in four have meaningful connectivity (26.2 per cent). In Rwanda, it is only one out every 166 people (0.6 per cent).
The broadband body informed that across the nine countries surveyed, rural areas lag behind their urban counterparts in terms of Internet connectivity. On average, people in urban areas are twice as likely to be connected to the Internet compared to people in rural areas and the urban-rural gap for Internet use is 70 per cent. It however, said that in terms of meaningful connectivity, urban areas have levels of meaningful connectivity that are over three times greater when compared to rural areas and the meaningful connectivity geography gap reaches 110 per cent. It stressed that the gaps in Internet connectivity underestimate the degree to which rural areas lag behind urban ones in the quality of the access they have.
A4AI said it used these nine (countries) surveys to estimate the prevalence of each of the four pillars of meaningful connectivity by surveying mobile Internet users and using weighted projections to estimate what fraction of the population that might represent.
According to the data, in Ghana, 95.4 per cent of the population lacks meaningful connectivity with only 6.5 per cent of the population experiencing good connectivity. Kenya has 10.9 per cent meaningful connectivity with 130.3 per cent population gap. Mozambique has 144.4 per cent connectivity gap, while only 3.6 per cent of the population gets quality service.
The report revealed that Rwanda has 266.7 per cent meaningful connectivity geography gap with just 0.6 per cent of the population having access to improved service. South Africa has 79.7 per cent meaningful connectivity gap, with only 12.8 per cent having access. India has 54.4 per cent population gap, while only about 6.8 per cent of the population can boast of meaningful connectivity. In Indonesia, 12.7 per cent of the population has meaningful connectivity, while 48.8 per cent are without it.
It stressed that the clear trend of deeper meaningful connectivity gaps between urban and rural areas in all countries illustrates the urgency for action not just to connect rural and remote populations to the Internet but to ensure this connectivity has the essential technical capabilities to be meaningful for people living in these areas.
MEANWHILE, in addition to measuring for meaningful connectivity, the A4AI survey asked respondents about device ownership, where it made comparisons between the experiences of those who own a personal computer (including a desktop, laptop, or tablet device) and those who do not.
It revealed that in Nigeria, only 68.7 per cent of the population own a PC, 58.6 per cent in Ghana, 50.4 per cent in Kenya, 46.3 per cent in Mozambique, 31.5 per cent in Rwanda and 64.8 per cent in South Africa. In Colombia 60.4 per cent, India 21.8 per cent and Indonesia 51.6 per cent.
Overall, A4AI said PC owners had 75.3 per cent confidence in finding a piece of information, while non-owners were only 58.2 per cent confident. It stressed that this represents a 29.3 per cent increase on informational confidence on average across countries and indicators.