Africa’s broadband pays the price for bureaucratic fumbling
5 May 2017
Nigeria's performance on the 2017 Affordability Drivers Index decreased in the last year while Ghana's remained the same within the period according to country-specific highlights released by the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) in April 2017.
A drop from 12th position which Nigeria secured in the 2015-16 edition of the Index to 13th this year shows the slow pace of policy and regulatory progress, according to the African Affordability 2017 Report.
It also highlights the need for more to be done to improve previous rounds of policy and regulatory reforms identified to help make broadband internet affordable.
The Report recommended that Nigeria pursue a balanced approach to taxation on ICT services, including those on handsets and data to encourage internet use. Spectrum plans must continue to provide time-bound targets and availability of data on existing infrastructure facilities across multiple sectors (e.g. power and energy) should be improved amongst others.
Nigerian Communication Minister, Adebayo Shittu said the country is awaiting the approval of its newly-developed ICT strategic roadmap which sets out how the West African nation will leverage ICT to become a knowledge-based globally competitive society by 2020.
Shittu added that the country's Broadband Council has been reconstituted to give consideration for A4AI representation as the ministry continues to partner with governments and other stakeholders to move the telecoms industry forward.
"I want to charge you that local content is very important for use of the internet and that (the) importance of digital literacy cannot be over emphasised in the 21st century," he said, urging the coalition to ensure that millions of Nigerian users come online.
According to the Report, Ghana ranked 26th out of 58 countries surveyed, maintained the same ranking it earned in the 2015-16 evaluation which indicates its "slow pace of policy and regulatory progress."
While it recommends that Ghana should reduce taxes on end user devices, it also suggests a review of outdated national ICT and broadband plans to include smart targets for bringing women and other marginalised groups online to improve internet access.
In Africa, as a whole, the 2017 report explores the policy progress made across 58 low- and middle-income countries. Out of 27 countries surveyed, only five of them have affordable internet: Mauritius, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Sudan.
While African countries score higher than the global average in policy and regulation for competition, complicated licensing regimes in a number of countries increase operator costs and monopolistic practices "discourage" new market entrants e.g. Cameroon and Ethiopia.