By Olubunmi Adeniyi
Lagos. November 11, 2012:The level of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) uptake in Nigeria is gradually improving as its ICT Development Index (IDI) grew by 0.18 percent between 2010 and 2011, according to a new report by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
ITU disclosed this in its 2012 report, “Measuring the Information Society,” prepared by the ICT Data and Statistics Division within the Telecommunication Development Bureau of the UN specialised agency that coordinates the global telecoms industry.
As at 2011, out of the 155 countries included in the IDI data provided by ITU in the report, Nigeria ranked 122. The country recorded 1.93 and 1.75 percent in 2011 and 2010 respectively.
According to ITU, this slight increase is partly attributable to the lower starting values in the country, but it also reflects the rapid uptake of ICT services such as mobile Internet.
ITU reveals that the surge in numbers of mobile-broadband subscriptions in developing countries has brought the Internet to a multitude of new users.
“The emergence of mobile Internet services (both prepaid and postpaid) has played a key role in the surge in numbers of mobile-broadband subscriptions in developing countries, bringing Internet to a large number of users who have limited access to fixed-broadband services.”
Meanwhile, Nigeria also ranked among the least connected countries with Ghana, Senegal, Ghana and some other developing countries. ITU recommends that priority should be given to the least connected countries when it comes to ICT for development.
The body notes that the countries in the least connected categories lack infrastructure and skills needed to increase ICT penetration and usage. As such, keen attention should be paid to this group of countries by policy-makers at both the national and international levels.
According to the report, telecoms is an infrastructure-intensive business requiring large-scale and long-term capital outlays with income earned on investment taking time to materialise and spreading out over several years.
In an increasingly competitive environment in which technology evolves very rapidly, renewed investment is essential to meet the requirements of advanced ICT services such as bandwidth-hungry applications and convergent services for both fixed broadband and mobile-broadband services, ITU says.
Also, the report indicates that telecoms revenue growth in Nigeria was largely driven by the expansion of service coverage with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of above 10 per cent.
As observed by ITU, rising subscription rates was the main explanatory factor behind exceptional mobile revenue growth rates of 15 per cent annually in the country.
“The progress seen in recent years in the uptake of ICTs would not have been possible without major investment in telecommunication networks. However, today, more investment is needed both in order to improve existing services, for example, upgrading to broadband so as to bring them to more people.”
The mobile sector is the prime source of revenue in developing countries, representing 62 per cent of telecoms revenues, a proportion that continues to increase over the last four years, ITU says.
The ITU report reveals that in developed economies, mobile revenues represent on average 47 per cent of total telecoms revenues noting that in these countries, mobile data was the most important driver of revenue growth in the mobile segment of telecoms.
Developing economies can also take advantage of mobile data as a growing revenue source by speeding up their transition to 3G and to more advanced networks such as Long Term Evolution (LTE), according to the report.
ITU sees developing countries as key growth markets for telecoms revenues noting that the role and contribution of developing economies in terms of both generating revenue and securing investments in telecoms are increasingly important. They have been less affected by and recovered more quickly from the 2008 global economic downturn.
The report nevertheless notes that the prices for ICT services remain very high in many low-income countries. For mobile broadband to replicate the mobile-cellular miracle, 3G network coverage has to be extended and prices have to go down further, ITU recommends.