Nigerians still overpay for sub-standard internet service in 2023

Ganiu Oloruntade
Nigerians still overpay for sub-standard internet service in 2023

Thanks to a growing population of digital-savvy young people and deepening broadband penetration, internet adoption in Nigeria has increased significantly over the last decade.

However, internet connectivity in Africa’s largest economy is largely poor, dealing a fatal blow to both citizens and businesses. The darker side to this grim situation is that Nigerians overpay for internet services despite the country’s slow internet speed.

Surfshark, an Amsterdam-based cybersecurity firm, recently released its Global Internet Value Index (IVi), which uncovers countries overpaying for their internet connection plan. Surfshark calculates the index by dividing each country’s internet speed by affordability.

Per the index that evaluated 117 countries, Nigeria ranks 109th globally with an index of 0.0017, which is 44 times lower than the global average, meaning Nigerians are overpaying for the internet they get when compared to other countries worldwide.

Read also: Nigeria ranks 142 in 2021 global internet speed as African countries dominate bottom 10

Nigeria ranks 16th in Africa in terms of internet value

According to Surfshark’s data, Nigeria ranks 16th in regional position, with its index 56% lower than Africa’s average. Nigeria holds 12th place in Sub-Saharan Africa, while South Africa and Ghana rank 70th and 105th, respectively, on the global ranking. Nigeria has a 90% lower index compared to South Africa and a 26% lower index compared to Ghana.

Comparing internet value in Africa, four out of every ten people can access the web at a fair price, according to Surfshark. South Africa leads the pack on the continent, with Egypt ranking second, followed by Morocco. Interestingly, the trio of Nigeria, Egypt, and South Africa dropped below two positions in the latest Speedtest Global Index published by U.S.-based internet speed analysis firm Ookla.

The report said that the activities of several telcos and government agencies to facilitate upgrades directly impacted mobile download speeds on the continent.

Nigerians still overpay for sub-standard internet service in 2023
Image Source: Surfshark.

Though the top-ranking African country on Surfshark’s Global Internet Value Index (IVi), South Africa, is part of the Sub-Saharan Africa subregion, the Northern Africa subregion performs better overall, with the average index of its four countries being two times higher than Sub-Saharan Africa’s. Only one in four (26.3%) Sub-Saharan African nations have values above average, compared to all Northern African nations.

On the other side of the scale, Zimbabwe and Uganda are the lowest-ranking African countries, followed closely by Cameroon. The two countries’ abysmal rating is hardly surprising: half of Zimbabwe’s population has no access to the internet, while the cost of internet use in Uganda is the highest in the world.

Read also: Egypt, South Africa drop as other African countries rise in 2022 internet speed ranking.

The bumpy road to high-quality internet in Nigeria

Though Nigeria prides itself as the home to a rising population of digital natives (persons born or brought up during the age of digital technology), the country not only grapples with low internet quality and connectivity but also expensive internet, albeit a global problem.

A report by Statista shows that African countries are among the most expensive in the world when it comes to purchasing mobile data. In 2021, Nigeria was reported to have the least affordable internet in the world.

Internet penetration in the country has risen, hitting about 38% last year. According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), there are 152.2 million service subscribers in Nigeria, while broadband penetration stands at 44.65% as of January 2023.

Internet shutdowns cost sub-Saharan Africa $244.2m in 2022
Image Source: Technext.

Even the rollout of the much-talked-about Fifth-Generation (5G) network in the country is rocky. 3G and 4G continue to be the dominant networks in Nigeria. As of December 2021, the country had 43.51 million 4G connections and 34.53 million 3G connections.

But 5G is expensive. And Nigerians already pay through their nose to connect to the web. For context, over N3.25 trillion was spent on airtime, data, and other telecommunication services in 2021. Per a recent report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), about 133 million people — out of the country’s estimated 200 million population — live in multidimensional poverty.

But hope appears to be in sight. Telecommunications giant MTN — the first mobile network operator to launch a high-speed network in Nigeria — recently disclosed that its 4G population coverage hit 79.1%. Last month, Mafab Communications Limited, a telecom newbie, rolled out its 5G network. The arrival of Elon Musk-owned satellite internet service, Starlink, will also improve internet speed in Nigeria, albeit at a heavy cost.

Read also: How to get Elon Musk’s Starlink internet from Nigeria in 2023.

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