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95% of the World Now Covered by Mobile Broadband Networks – GSMA Research

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Ensuring people are able to use mobile internet, rather than focusing purely on network coverage, is the key to driving digital inclusion for 3.2 billion people worldwide, according to statistics released by the GSMA yesterday.

The organisation’s annual State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report shows that 95% of the global population now lives in areas served by mobile broadband connectivity, and that enabled by that coverage footprint, 55% of the world’s population is now connected to mobile internet. Providing coverage to the remaining 5% (the ‘coverage gap’) remains an important challenge.

However, the bigger issue is the 3.2 billion people, equivalent to 40% of the world’s population, who are covered by a mobile broadband network but face barriers that prevent them from getting online (the ‘usage gap’). These include:

– A lack of literacy and digital skills

– Affordability (particularly handset affordability)

– Access to relevant content and services

–  Safety and security concerns and access

The impacts of these challenges have far-reaching consequences, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where mobile is the primary – and in many cases only – form of internet access.

94% of the world’s ‘unconnected’ population – who are more likely to be poor, living in rural areas and women – live in LMICs.

Lack of internet access holds them back from playing an active role in an increasingly online world, making them less able to cope with the continuing economic and social disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, rising energy prices and the cost-of-living crisis.

These barriers also prevent them from being able to access critical information and services such as healthcare, education, e-commerce, financial services and income-generating opportunities.

GSMA Director General, Mats Granryd said “More than 55% of people globally are now benefitting from the transformational power of mobile internet connectivity.

“Mobile operators worldwide have now extended mobile coverage to 95% of the global population, and continue investing every day to increase that footprint. We should celebrate that achievement, but we shouldn’t let it blind us to the even bigger challenge.

“It’s time to make real strides on the journey to reach the 3.2 billion people who are not yet using mobile internet despite living within the footprint of mobile broadband networks.

“We call on governments and organisations worldwide to work alongside the mobile industry and make digital inclusion a genuine priority. Removing barriers to mobile internet adoption will boost economic recovery, improve social mobility and gender equality, and transform the lives of millions worldwide.”

Important trends

Whilst the report highlighted the importance of increased focus on addressing the ‘usage gap’ it also revealed a number of important trends:

  • Use of mobile internet is still growing, and driving digital inclusion. By the end of 2021, 4.3 billion people were using mobile internet or 55% of the world’s population, up from 43% in 2017
  • Almost 300 million people came online in the past year. Most of the people who started using mobile internet in 2021 came from LMICs where 94% of the unconnected population live. As a result, for the first time half of the population LMICs is now using mobile internet.
  • Globally, the coverage gap reduced substantially over the last 7 years. The percentage of people outside the reach of mobile broadband networks fell from 19% in 2015 to 5% at the end of 2021. However, there is no room for complacency: 400 million people worldwide still do not live in an area covered by a mobile broadband network, and progress has slowed since 2018.

While important progress has been achieved in increasing internet adoption and usage, the report, which was funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) via the GSMA Mobile for Development Foundation, demonstrates that growth has been unequal and there is a growing digital divide between and within countries.

It concludes that strong collective effort is needed to close the digital divide. This requires informed, targeted action by all stakeholders, including mobile operators, policymakers, international partners and the broader private sector to address the needs of the unconnected and the barriers they face to accessing and using the internet.

Addressing the mobile internet usage gap will be a focus of this year’s Mobile World Congress Africa event in Kigali, Rwanda, which starts next week.


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9mobile Urges Subscribers to Link their NIN to Their Phone Lines to Avoid Disconnection

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Telecommunication network, 9mobile, has urged its subscribers who have not linked their SIM cards with their National Identity Number (NIN) to carry out the exercise on or before February 28, 2024, to avoid disconnection from the network.

Customers who do not comply with this directive will be unable to make or receive calls, have no access to the internet, no SMS, no One Time Password (OTP), and no bank alerts.

This was revealed by the Director, Customer Care at 9mobile, Ehimare Omoike, who said that this action was in line with the directive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The Commission had in December 2023 directed that all telephone subscribers must have their NIN linked on their operator’s network to verify the identity of the phone users and minimize the criminal use of network services. At the moment, more than 35% of subscribers’ lines are yet to be linked to their NIN, forcing authorities to issue a deadline.

Ehimare noted that customers whose mobile lines are not linked to their NIN will be disconnected from all telecommunication service of the network. “Your line will be disconnected when you do not link your SIM to your National Identity Number (NIN).

“The implication here is that as a subscriber on 9mobile network, you will be completely shut out from access to the virtual world and you will be greatly inconvenienced.

“We therefore urge all our valued subscribers to endeavour to link their mobile lines with their NIN before February 28, 2024, to keep enjoying endless and seamless value offerings that enhance their lifestyle from 9mobile.”

He advised 9mobile subscribers to go and link their line now by visiting any 9mobile outlets for instant linking of their lines, or visit  https://9mobile.com.ng/experience-centres to check the nearest 9mobile experience centers.

It will be recalled that the compulsory registration by Nigerians of the National Identity Number (NIN) and the subsequent linkage of the NIN to their Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards is a policy by the Federal Government through the NCC to improve the integrity and transparency of the SIM registration process and consolidate the achievements of the SIM registration exercise of 2019.

The long-term goal of this initiative is to attain a widespread digital identity database and improve security in Nigeria.

The linking involves validating the NIN with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and matching the subscriber’s NIN records with the SIM registration information (verification) to ensure proper subscriber identification.

 


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Airtel Ads to Support African Businesses Achieve Effective and Enhanced Advertising Reach

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Airtel Africa has launched Airtel Ads, Africa’s first integrated Demand-Side Platform (DSP) aimed at empowering advertisers and agencies to efficiently manage, purchase, and optimize digital ad inventory across multiple ad exchanges in real-time.

Powered by Intent.ai, Airtel Ads is designed for media agencies and businesses, streamlining the process of purchasing advertising space.

This feature enables advertisers to make informed ad placement decisions by combining various tools and functionalities within a single platform and offers a comprehensive solution for digital advertising management.

The platform will leverage Airtel Africa’s extensive customer base of more than 150 million customers, utilizing data from both telecommunications services and mobile wallets.

This approach aims to not only target digitally engaged individuals but also include those traditionally excluded from the digital realm through its 2G and feature phone user base.

Additionally, through the integrated Airtel Voice Reward Ads, the platform has the capability to reach consumers on various devices.

Understanding the current limitations in ad performance for organisations, Airtel Ads aims to seamlessly merge all ad networks with Airtel Africa’s first party telecommunications data.

It will provide a unified advertising platform with precise audience segmentation, a dedicated marketing team, data analytics with post-campaign support in addition to both native language support and access to 260+ bidding parameters.

The platform, powered by ai based brand safety tools, will also accept payments in local African currencies.

Since its inception, the platform has achieved a weekly audience reach of 27 billion impressions, 23.5 million in-app daily impressions and over 200 million daily SMS notifications daily with end-of-SMS tag messaging potential.

Speaking on the launch, Airtel Africa’s Chief Commercial Officer, Anthony Shiner said: “We are excited to introduce Airtel Ads in Africa. This innovative platform will support advertisers and businesses to gain unprecedented control over their marketing campaigns, leveraging Airtel Africa’s extensive customer base and world class technology.

“Airtel Ads is a testament to our leadership in shaping the communications landscape in Africa, ensuring businesses are supported to achieve their objectives using data first tools to inform their business decisions.”


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Anambra State ICT Agency Unveils Pilot Phase of Free Public Wi-Fi Initiative in Awka

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In a monumental leap toward transforming Anambra State into a smart mega city, Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, CFR, has reaffirmed his commitment to a technologically advanced future for the state, through the launch of the pilot phase of the Public Wi-Fi initiative tagged Solution Wi-Fi.

Driven by the Anambra State ICT Agency in collaboration with Pineheight Systems Limited (PHSWEB), this pilot phase initiative, which signposts a resounding fulfillment of promises outlined in the People’s Manifesto, marks a significant stride towards launching the state into the digital age.

As part of his visionary manifesto detailed on Pages 20 and 33, Governor Soludo pledged to “Provide cheap (and ultimately free) Wi-Fi hotspots in public places for the takeoff of the State’s emergence into the digital age” and “Work with development partners to deploy broadband access to schools across all levels and public libraries to improve access to the internet for all and continue to build the digital tribe.”

According to a statement signed by the MD/CEO of the Anambra State ICT Agency, Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata, CFA, the agency is dedicated to realizing Governor Soludo’s vision of “Everything Technology, Technology Everywhere”, adding that this pilot phase is part of the ongoing technological transformation under the Soludo Agenda.

CFA explained, “The broader vision includes collaboration with development partners to provide broadband access to schools and public libraries, thereby enhancing internet accessibility across all strata of the society.”

CFA emphasized that the Solution Wi-Fi initiative, now operational in three strategic locations in the state capital Awka namely Aroma Junction, Book Foundation, and UNIZIK Back gate, will see users within these locations enjoy one hour of free internet access, every 24 hours, during the pilot phase.

He further explained that all 3 locations are not only strategic but quite important for students and businesses alike. “The deployment of the Solution Wi-Fi to these areas will no doubt boost educational activities while businesses can also leverage it to enhance their online presence.

“High speed and free internet access can also help our teeming young population to begin to create content that will yield revenue amongst other prospects, the opportunities are endless,” CFA concluded.

To access the free Solution Wi-Fi, businesses around the designated locations and individuals, can upon activation of their Wi-Fi, and selection of “Solution Wi-Fi”, follow the SMS authentication prompt, to create a username (phone number). After which they will receive an auto-generated code via SMS. This code serves as the password, granting them one hour of fast internet access per day, with an effective range of up to 200 meters, depending on the user’s device.

This groundbreaking initiative underscores Anambra State’s unwavering commitment to technological excellence, recently acknowledged at the National Council on Communication, Innovation, and Digital Economy (NCCIDE) meeting in Kano, where the state received prestigious awards, including Overall Best State in Digital Technology Development, First Position for Best State in Digital Infrastructure Technology Development, and First Runner-up in e-government Implementation and Digital Technology Human Capital Development.

Anambra State proudly takes its place on the technology map of Nigeria, a testament to Governor Soludo’s steadfast commitment and investment in technology, and the State ICT Agency reaffirms its commitment to a future marked by technological advancement, innovation, and unparalleled progress for the state.


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