What is your assessment of the Nigerian telecoms sector?
You only need to go back to the last 20 years to see that Nigeria has made enormous strides in the telecoms industry. I remember when you had to pay N20,000 ($47.87) to get a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card. I remember when we only had 100,000 fixed lines. We have done incredibly well. We have a fast-growing telecoms market and a large subscriber base with a lot of room to grow the data sector.
However, although we have a huge subscriber base, data penetration is still lacking. Access to high-speed internet is still lacking. Data is still relatively expensive compared to people’s wallet size. Access to smartphones is equally challenging.
If these areas are addressed, we will leapfrog into the next phase of the telecoms revolution because everything around financial inclusion, banking the unbanked, relies on high-speed internet access. That is something that is still lacking.
There is still very, very patchy fibre connection across the nation, and without adequate fibre optic connectivity, you cannot guarantee high-speed internet access. We are talking about the Internet of Things, 5G – the next revolution relies on huge data, which can only be powered by high-speed fibre optic cables.
A large part of the population can hardly afford mobile phones and other accessories. What action should operators take to make the tools needed by subscribers more affordable?
A telecoms operator can partner with a handset provider, for example. In many countries, you don’t pay 100% of the cost of the device on purchase, you enter into a subscription service. That is what makes it easy.
Or the cost of the handset can be deducted and taken from your mobile subscription on a daily basis – like $0.3 or $0.5 a day.
In India, when Reliance Jio appeared, they rolled out cheap smartphones and flooded the market. You might see some of that in Nigeria in due course.
Source: Michael Nwadike | African.business