The latest international research centre classifications confirm that Nigeria with a population of 155 million has exceeded the 45 million Internet users. This data propels the African giant to the continental top place.
Second place goes to Egypt with 21.7 million users (and 80 million inhabitants), followed by Morocco (15.7 million Web users) and Kenya (10.6 million users).
The Nigeria’s Internet sector has been hindered by the country’s underdeveloped and unreliable fixed-line infrastructure, but has changed as competition intensifies and new technologies are able to deliver wireless broadband access. More than 400 ISPs have been licensed as well as a number of data carriers, Internet exchange and gateway operators. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is already carrying the bulk of Nigeria’s international voice traffic.
According to the National Communications Commission (NCC), the current deployment of the country’s first Next Generation Networks (NGN) will drive further convergence of voice, data and video/TV, enabling the provision of triple-play services that will ultimately also involve the country’s already competitive broadcasting sector.
The Commission also said that Nigeria is the most competitive fixed-line market in Africa, featuring a second national operator (SNO) and over 50 other companies licensed to provide fixed telephony services.
The alternative carriers combined now provide more than twice the number of fixed lines than the comatose NITEL, which the government is planning to liquidate.
Analysts suggest that strong demand for Internet services and broadband capabilities is aiding the development of the fixed-line sector, which at a market penetration of just over 1% still has enormous growth potential.