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How Nigeria can achieve digital economy, by GSMA

How Nigeria can achieve digital economy, by GSMA

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Modernising regulation and policy reform will be crucial to boosting Nigeria’s digital economy and accelerating internet access for millions through increased mobile broadband penetration, the Global System for Mobile Communication Association (GSMA) has said.

In its latest report titled: Spotlight on Nigeria: Delivering a Digital Future, it said research had shown that the mobile market in Nigeria made an important contribution to the economy.

According to it, the mobile industry contributed $21 billion to gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017, representing 5.5 per cent of total GDP. It also said that the growth of the country’s digital economy created nearly 500,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The report, which was launched in conjunction with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), brought together leaders from across the mobile industry with policymakers to discuss future regulation and how to enable the next-generation of 5G connectivity.

According GSMA, growth in the adoption of digital services by government, businesses and consumers is having a positive impact on daily life in the country. It stressed that for majority of Nigerians, mobile broadband is the first and only technology for accessing the internet, enabling better access to health, education and commercial opportunities, amongst other public services. Smartphone adoption has already risen to over 53 million connections, and 49 per cent of the population are currently connected by mobile technology, compared to less than one per cent who have a fixed-line connection.

However, the report concluded that there is still broad scope for the country to increase its mobile penetration. Although more Nigerians are getting access to mobile broadband, the country lags regional peers in 4G adoption. Helping to accelerate adoption would enable more advanced services and create bigger societal impacts, it said.

With increased spectrum harmonisation and licensing reform, the country’s mobile penetration is forecast to rise to 55 per cent of the population by 2025, with 70 per cent having 3G connectivity and 17 per cent having access to 4G networks. Currently, only 44 per cent of mobile subscribers in Nigeria are using 3G technology and 4 per cent are using 4G technology, compared to over 18 per cent 4G penetration in South Africa and 16 per cent in Angola.

Speaking on the report, the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, NCC, Prof Garba Dmabatta said: “In the world we live in today, mobile communication is a cardinal tool of economic development, growth and integration, and the mobile industry is a key enabler of productivity across economies and societies. The mobile industry is not only a significant contributor to the economic activities of Nigeria, but also towards the growth of other sectors of the economy. The Nigerian Communications Commission has been, and continues to play a key role in the development of mobile communication in Nigeria, and I am delighted to be part of this event today. This provides an avenue for regulators, operators, investors, and other relevant stakeholders to examine, share and constructively exchange ideas.”

Also commenting on the report, Head of sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA, Akinwale Goodluck, said mobile connectivity has already improved the welfare of millions of Nigerians, opening the door to new digital possibilities and powering the country’s economic development.

He said:  “For Nigeria to take full advantage of the next phase of its digital transformation, it’s vital that collaboration between industry and government enables the right policy environment for millions more to benefit from ultra-fast mobile broadband. If policies don’t keep pace with the needs of society and technological innovation, there is a risk that citizens will be left behind and productivity and competitiveness will suffer.”

The GSMA has identified support for and release of harmonised spectrum and a modernised licensing framework as fundamental build

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