By Olubunmi Adeniyi
Lagos. December 16, 2012: Nigeria’s personal computer ownership stand at an abysmal 4.5 percent of her teeming population, a major technology gap in the continent’s most vibrant telecoms market, a new government study has uncovered.
This is pitted against official information showing that the nation’s telecoms market currently has over 100 million active phone connections with over 90 per cent of them being mobile phones, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator.
Meanwhile, despite being the fastest growing telecoms market in Africa and the increased presence of indigenous PC makers Omatek Computers and Zinox Technologies, Nigeria’s PC penetration ranked 4.5 per cent, according to the latest report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
This figure is revealed in the outcome of the joint survey recently conducted under the “Annual Socio-Economic Report: Access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT)” by the NBS and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The NBS survey reveals that over 95 per cent of Nigerians lack access to a PC or Internet. Access to personal computers appears to be low, with a national average total access of 4.5 per cent while actual PC ownership stands at 0.9 per cent.
The result of the survey shows that the most widely-used ICT devices are radios and mobile phones while Internet usage and PC access remained considerably lower.
Of the overall Nigerian population with access to mobile phones, nearly half owns the device. Similarly, more than a third own radios, while about a quarter own TVs as well as PCs and Internet access devices, according to the survey.
The statistics reveal that 82.9 percent of Nigerians had total access (those who owned and those who had access only) to radio and 63.9 per cent had access to mobile phones and less than half of the population, 44.7 per cent, had access to TV.
Going by the result of the survey conducted by the NBS, it shows that over 158 million out of 167 million Nigerians do not have access to the PC.
Even with the introduction, of the Computers for All Nigerians Initiatives (CANI), a government-private sector collaboration aimed at increasing PC penetration in Nigeria, the International Telecommunications Union statistics also revealed that PC penetration remained very low in the ratio of 7 computers per 1, 000 Nigerians.
According to an analyst, the high cost of computer equipment and the grossly underdeveloped technological base are the major reasons for low PC penetration in Nigeria.
In the NBS survey which covers all the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kogi State recorded the highest percentage of total PC access in the country with 17.4 per cent though the majority of the computers are not personally-owned.
The FCT and Lagos had total access rates of 15.9 per cent and 15.8 per cent respectively but only five per cent of the computers are individually owned.
Osun, Rivers, Anambra, Edo, Ogun, Cross Rivers, Oyo and Delta had total access rates of 10.0, 9.0, 8.6, 6.9, 6.4, 6.0, 5.2 per cent respectively while all other states have lower than 5 per cent total access rates to computers, the survey reveals.
The report also indicates that states with least total PC access include Kano, Kebbi, Zamfara, Borno and Sokoto, each of which has less than 1 per cent of persons having total access.
According to the outcome, the country’s Internet access rates stood at 3.6 per cent in 2011 but with only 0.5 per cent claiming to own Internet connection device.
Compared to total PC access between persons, a fair number of states performed better than the national average.
Lagos came on top of the chart with 27 per cent total access to the Internet, while two other States, Rivers and FCT recorded above 10 per cent total access, although a considerable proportion does not claim ownership.
“Four States with the least access, Sokoto emerges with only 0.3 per cent access to the Internet. Kebbi, Zamfara, Kano, Bauchi, Kaduna, and Ebonyi States also turn out to have low Internet access rates, each with less than 1 per cent. Expectedly, urban dwellers had more access and ownership of Internet service (11.6 per cent) compared to the rural dwellers (1.5 per cent)” according to the NBS report.
The survey also reveals rural areas and most of the urban areas do not have access to an Internet connection, despite the fact that some of them do have mobile telecoms services.
On the other hand, mobile penetration seems to be doing quite good in Nigeria. The penetration in the country has witnessed significant growth with nearly half of the population claiming access, underscoring the rising importance of the telecoms industry in the Nigerian economy.
Also in the NBS survey, Nigeria’s total access to mobile phones in 2011 stood at 63.9 per cent with half of the population claiming ownership.
Anambra State has the highest percentage of people with access to mobile phones at 95.1 per cent and nearly 60 per cent of these own the device. In other words, at least 9 in every 10 persons who reside in the state are likely to have access to a mobile phone.
The next in the ranking, Osun state recorded 91.9 per cent. Other states with high access records include Kogi, Ogun, Niger and Lagos each with more than 85 per cent total access levels.
Sokoto and Taraba states have the least access to mobile phones at 33.1 per cent each. However, those who actually claimed ownership in Taraba state are more than those who do in Sokoto State.
NBS concluded that nevertheless, it is pertinent to note that ICTs are continuously evolving and in many cases, a single device, for example mobile phone, could perform the function of all others obviating the need to own multiple devices.
“This fact may be responsible for the high percentage of mobile phone access, even though a higher percentage of the population has access to the radio,” NBS says.
The results reflect the traditional role occupied by the radio as the oldest and leading source of information dissemination and acquisition by Nigerians, as well as the rising importance of mobile phones in a relatively short span of time of its introduction in the country.
NBS observes that considering the poor electricity supply situation in the country coupled with national poverty levels, PC and Internet access are still relatively expensive in most parts of the country, hence lower level of access and ownership.