Nigeria and Internet Access

Kenechukwu Obiezu

Kenechukwu Obiezu

Recently, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the communications arm of   the United Nations (UN), concluded its World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC)in Kigali, Rwanda. At the Conference, over $18.5 billion was pledged to support global internet access which is widely recognized as a key aspect of sustainable development.

Life moves at a furious pace these days and by the minute, different events go down around the world. To keep up with the   speed at which things move, there is a need for information that is easily and readily accessible.

In these days of globalization, when the world is interconnected, and a whole lot of information is usually only a click away thanks to the internet, it is no rocket science to deduce that access to the internet is key  to many Nigerians participating in affairs within their own country   as well as  keeping tabs on what is going on in other  countries in a world  where what affects one, strongly affects others as Russia`s heinous  invasion of Ukraine is  showing.

Do enough Nigerians have adequate access to the internet? What is the service provided by telecommunications companies within the country like? How affordable is data to Nigerians?

Across the world, about 2.9 billion people of the world`s 7 billion people have no access to the internet. This has invariably reduced the quality of their lives, depriving them of key life-changing opportunities.

Data shows that in Nigeria, in spite of the fact that there are about 148 million internet users, some 25 million Nigerians are still without access to basic telephony services.

Experts have long been of the opinion that advancing internet access in developing countries can held achieve sustainable economies. Because the internet offers a lot of potential and opportunities for sustainable development.

In the summer of 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Council released a non-binding resolution condemning intentional disruption of internet access by governments. The resolution reaffirmed that “the same rights people have offline must also be protected online.”

The right to internet access, also known as the right to broadband or freedom to connect is the view that all people must be able to access the internet in order to exercise and enjoy their rights to freedom of expression and opinion and other fundamental human rights, that states have a responsibility to ensure that internet access is broadly available, and that states may not unreasonably restrict an individual` s access to the internet.

Given that the right to internet access is closely linked to the right of freedom of speech which encompasses freedom of expression as well, what is the implication of being without internet access for millions of Nigeria who do not enjoy it at the moment? Simply put, they are cut adrift. They are denied access to information which goes a long way in encouraging meaningful participation in the affairs of the country.

Without access at all to the internet, or where such access is severely affected by poor connectivity or the extortionate cost of data, many Nigerians are denied their right to information. And as knowledge is power, they are rendered powerless.

If   providing Nigerians with adequate and affordable internet access is given the priority it deserves, many Nigerians will be sustainably empowered.

Kene Obiezu,

keneobiezu@gmial.com

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