The Digital Face of a Nation

Nigeria's Digital Face

As part of the research on Peace and ICTs, I am joining efforts with 12 other young people to produce a book that will showcase the outcomes of our research efforts. In one of the sections, I will reporting on the Digital Face of Nigeria. Enjoy:

Nigeria is presently one of the fastest growing telecommunication markets globally and the nation has recently shown a great leaning towards establishing Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as a national priority. Nigeria’s telecommunications industry is now over 100 year old, but it was only in 1999 that the National Policy on Telecommunications was launched. A National Policy on Information Technology followed in 2001, along with the establishment of the National Information Technology Development Agency under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (Dada and Sesan, 2003).

The nation’s telecommunications sector has shown leadership in digital growth. In December 2000, Nigeria had 450,000 connected fixed lines, no connected digital mobile line, 1 national career, 18 operating Internet Service Providers, 9 active licensed fixed-line operators, and 1 licensed mobile line operator (Ndukwe, 2005). In the same period, Nigeria had 200,000 internet users (Internet World Statistics, 2005) , even though many experts agree that the figures are contestable. For example, a computer system in an average cyber-café in Lagos is known to be used by as many as 15 people daily.

In March 2004, the earlier figures grew to become 888,854 connected fixed lines, 3.8 million connected digital mobile lines, 2 national careers, 35 operating Internet Service Providers, 30 active licensed fixed-line operators, and 4 licensed mobile line operators. In December 2004, Nigeria had 1.5 million internet users, penetration rate of 1.3% and constitutes about 5.6% of the total number of African internet users. Africa itself only boasts of 1.5% of global internet users while it has 14% of the world’s inhabitants. Private investment in ICTs also rose from an almost zero value to about $4 billion between 1999 and 2003 (Ndukwe, 2005; Internet World Statistics, 2005).

Summarily, Nigeria’s digital face has improved significantly from 400,000 lines in 1996 to over 14 million lines in 2005 owing to independent regulation through the Nigerian Communications Commission, private sector participation, and broadened competition. Teledensity improved from 0.4% in 1996 to 3.92% in March 2004, several towns and cities estimated at 48% of the population and 18% of the land mass have potential access, grown from one player (monopoly) to hundreds of active players, and exceeded minimum ITU recommended teledensity of 1%. Information Technology has also shown marked improvement with number of personal computers rising from 4.8 to 6.8 per 1,000 inhabitants from 1999 to 2001 (World Bank, 2003), cost of internet access driven below the $1 per hour line, and software development given tremendous policy and infrastructural support.

(1) Dada, J. and Sesan O. (2003), Watch IT, the Nigerians are coming! Retrieved October 12, 2005, from the World Wide Web:
(2) Ndukwe, E. (2005), “ICT Infrastructure: An Essential Foundation for Implementing The WSIS Process in Nigeria”, eNigeria Annual National Conference, 28-30 June, Abuja, Nigeria.
(3) Internet World Statistics (2005), Internet Usage Statistics for Africa, Retrieved October 12, 2005, from the World Wide Web:
(4) World Bank (2003), ICT at a glance: Nigeria. Retrieved October 13, 2005, from the World Wide Web: http://www.

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