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GSMA says 71% of Nigerians have no regular access to mobile internet 

Groupe Special Mobile Association (GSMA), the umbrella body of mobile operators globally, has said that only 29% of Nigerians have regular access to mobile internet, leaving out 71. 

The body disclosed this in its Digital Economy Report focusing on Nigeria. According to the report, this is due to several industry challenges limiting telecom coverage expansion.  

The GSMA noted that Nigeria would need to put in place an enabling policy and regulatory framework that will be critical to realizing the full potential of the country’s digital transformation, as recognized in the country’s Strategic Plan 2023 – 2027 as well as the Federal Ministry of Communication’s National Broadband Alliance for Nigeria (NBAN).  

It added that a broader digital transformation of the Nigerian economy is not possible without universal access to digital connectivity. 

Noting that Nigeria could add 15 million internet users by 2028 with the right policy, GSMA said, 

It said the challenges include the complex and costly process of securing Rights of Way (RoW), significantly increasing the time and costs associated with rolling out infrastructure. 

GSMA also noted that the complex tax environment in Nigeria provides for high and increasing costs of tax compliance because of the complex and overlapping tax structure within the country.  

Emphasizing that the mobile industry is a key partner for the government in achieving its objectives, the report recommends initiatives to support policymakers in creating an economic and regulatory environment that supports growth, investment, and competition.  

According to the report, the initiatives include: implementing a legal framework for Critical National Infrastructure to address challenges in building network infrastructure; simplifying and improving the process for issuing RoW and standardizing it across the country; reducing the industry’s tax burden to help cut operating costs; and creating a regulatory environment that supports sustainable investment. 

Commenting on the report, the Head of Sub-Saharan Africa at the GSMA, Angela Wamola, said, 

What you should know 

The GSMA report was launched amid ongoing debate over Nigerian telecom operators’ demand for a tariff increase. While the operators said an increment is expedient to mitigate the impacts of the various challenges they are facing in the industry, the government wants them to explore other alternatives to address their challenges.  

According to the Minister of Communications Innovations and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, increasing data, voice, and text message prices is not the “sole or optimal solution” to the sector’s challenges. 

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