Nigeria has launched an ambitious plan to transform its economy to a knowledge-led one by deepening broadband penetration.
The country, which recently became the continent’s biggest economy after rebasing its gross domestic product (GDP) data, plans to increase broadband penetration from seven per cent to over 30 per cent over the next four years.
To achieve this feat the government has launched a roadmap dubbed ‘Broadband Campaign’ with the theme of ‘Connected Nigeria, Connected Nigerians’. The campaign is part of the National Broadband Plan 2013-2018 in which the government intends to double investments in the ICT sector to $50 billion.
Nigeria’s Minister of Communication Technology Mrs Omobola Johnson said increasing broadband penetration is critical in ensuring economic growth in Africa’s most populous country is sustained.
“The ICT sector contributes about eight per cent to the GDP but we believe it can contribute more if we connect more Nigerians to the Internet,” she said.
World Bank studies show that in low and middle-income countries, every 10 per cent point increase in broadband penetration accelerates economic growth by 1.38 percentage points.
Low broadband penetration in Nigeria has largely been caused by failure by the government and telecoms operators to invest in inland fibre optic cables to enable the population benefit from the huge broadband capacity provided by undersea cables. This has resulted in very high cost of internet at an embarrassingly slow speed.
Last month Nigeria overtook South Africa to become the continent’s biggest economy with GDP for 2013 totalled $509.9 billion compared to South Africa’s $370.3 billion.