Multi-stakeholder affordable internet forum held in Abuja, Nigeria
According to Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), only 33% of Nigerians use the internet (ITU, 2012) – mainly because broadband plans are too expensive. Main One finds the average broadband plan costs 39% of typical monthly Nigerian income.
On March 11th, the A4AI coalition hosted Nigeria’s first multi-stakeholder affordable internet forum. Held in Abuja, participants discussed challenges facing cheaper internet access in Nigeria along with how to overcome these barriers to access. Nine panelists including prominent members of the Federal Ministry of Communications Technology, Nigeria Communications Commission, and Main One represented government, business, academic, and civil society.
— A4AI (@A4A_Internet) March 11, 2014
All sectors need to be empowered and the primary goal of this day was to establish not only a national coalition that will contribute towards government policy, but also a working Action Plan. The @A4A_Internet Twitter feed did an excellent job keeping the world informed of key happenings at the forum.
Much of the day was spent discussing challenges that inhibit lower internet costs:
- Multiple taxation at the investment level
- Business challenges in the country
- Hosting in-country content on .ng domains
- Bandwidth is available but can’t reach consumers
- Heavy internet uptake in Lagos (70% of usage) relative to other regions
- Language barriers
- Spectrum management
- Local workers are known to extort telecom operators for infrastructure work
After addressing difficulties in bringing affordable internet to Nigeria, groups brainstormed what can be done to solve the problem of expensive internet access. Hot topics included taxation, infrastructure, spectrum, data collection, market competition, and Universal Access Policy:
- Make costs more transparent
- Prevent anti-competitive behavior
- Educate the average person how to understand internet terminology and usage fundamentals
- Lower licensing fees for telcos
- Develop open access framework for infrastructure
- Harmonize taxes