In a notable development, Nigeria is rapidly embracing 5G technology, despite being relatively new to the scene. Umar Dambatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), disclosed that the country has reached a significant milestone of 500,000 5G network subscriptions. Dambatta made this announcement during a recent media event.
Building on this achievement, Reuben Muoka, the Director of Public Affairs at the NCC, issued a statement reaffirming the commission’s commitment to expanding access to the 5G network. Unlike its predecessors, 5G offers enhanced network speed, reduced latency, and a host of other advantages.
Currently, MTN, Airtel, and MAFAB are the only telecom companies that have successfully launched 5G services in Nigeria.
However, MAFAB’s recent 5G launch generated some controversy on social media. Despite announcing the commencement of its 5G services, there was notably less buzz and excitement compared to MTN and Airtel. This led to debates regarding the actual existence of MAFAB’s 5G network. The NCC came to MAFAB’s defense, confirming that the company had indeed begun 5G operations.
Dambatta also highlighted Nigeria’s growing broadband penetration in recent years. As of July 2023, the NCC’s broadband access data showed a penetration rate of 47.01%, which remained unchanged from the previous month of June. The number of broadband subscriptions remained static at 89,730,341 during this period.
One area where the NCC did note a change was in active internet subscriptions, which increased from 158,944,660 in June 2023 to 158,982,962 in July, representing an addition of 38,302 new subscriptions. Teledensity also grew, rising from 115.30% to 115.70%.
Why Increasing Broadband Access, Especially 5G, is a Priority for Nigeria
Nigeria has set ambitious goals for broadband penetration. By 2025, the country aims to elevate its current access rate of 47.01% to 70%. Furthermore, it intends to achieve widespread coverage, reaching at least 90% of the nation’s population. If successful, this initiative promises to stimulate socio-economic growth and numerous other benefits.
Unsurprisingly, the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development has called on global leaders to collaborate in achieving universal connectivity.
Carlos Slim, Co-Chairman of the Commission, emphasized the need to “build a digital future that is inclusive, affordable, sustainable, safe, and people-centered. There should be no digital deserts in the world, and there should be no one excluded from connectivity.”
Statista reports that a staggering 864 million people in Africa lack access to the internet, with a significant portion residing in rural areas historically underserved by telecom providers. As governments and telecom companies intensify their efforts to bridge the digital divide, regions with limited internet penetration demand special attention.