A4AI in a recent report noted that affordability remains one of the most significant obstacles to Internet access around the world, with 2.3 billion people living in a country where a 1GB mobile broadband plan is unaffordable for individuals earning an average income.

“A number of national household surveys over the last few years have cited the high cost to connect as one of the major factors keeping people offline – unsurprising when you consider that across low and middle income countries, just 1GB of mobile broadband data costs 5.5 per cent of average monthly income,” noted the study.

“Only 24 of the 61 countries assessed in this year’s report have “affordable” internet and even in those countries, high income inequality means that prices remain unaffordable for those earning the least.”

The report is an annual publication examining the policy and regulatory framework that had allowed some countries to make Internet more affordable, accessible and universal. Speaking on the report, the Executive Director A4AI, Sonia Jorge, noted that while policies continue to improve on the whole, the pace of policy change remains far too slow to ensure affordable access for the billions still offline.

“We note that policies to expand and further develop infrastructure have stagnated and, in the case of island archipelago nations, the cost to provide mobile broadband data is multiple times the cost to do the same elsewhere. We provide specific recommendations and look forward to working with current and new partners to put these in practice to the benefit of the billions still unconnected,” she said.

According to the CEO of Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), Mr Rudman Mohammed, to bring down the cost of Internet in Nigeria and deepen broadband penetration, government would have to take some critical policy decisions to address current challenges. “It all depends on government.”

It is sad that at this point in time that we are trying to achieve 30 per cent broadband target, all kinds of taxes are coming and some of the state governments are even shutting down base stations,” he said. “With such things happening,

I don’t see us achieving the target. But as I said it is all about government policy, they can quickly reverse this and ensure that there is enabling environment where service providers can flourish, then within a very short period, you will see massive roll out across the country. If all the state governments come out today and say look we are giving you right of way for free, that will make huge impact. If you give the right condition, the deployment processes can be fast-tracked.”

Below Is The Full Release

Over Two Billion People Live In Countries With Unaffordable Internet

New report from the Alliance for Affordable Internet shows that as little as 1GB of mobile data is too expensive for billions Internet affordability has barely improved over the past year as countries fail to prioritise needed ICT policy reforms Island nations face some of the highest costs to connect 23 October 2018.

New research released today by the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) shows that more than 2.3 billion people live in countries where just 1GB of mobile data is not affordable. The 2018 Affordability Report warns that this high cost to connect is keeping billions offline and pushing the global goal of universal internet access further out of reach.

The report assesses the policy frameworks designed to advance affordable internet access across 61 low-and middle-income countries and finds: Over 60% of countries have unaffordable internet. Of the 61 countries studied, just 24 had affordable internet, where 1GB of mobile data costs less than 2% of average income.

Across the countries analysed, just
1GB of data costs over 5% of average monthly income; this price skyrockets to around and upwards of 20% of average income in a handful of countries.

Growth In People Using The Internet Has Slowed.
The UN originally estimated that we would achieve 50% global internet penetration by the end of 2017; a downturn in the growth of internet access and use means that we now don’t expect to reach that milestone until mid-2019.

Policies Have Barely Changed.
The pace of policy change to drive internet prices down marked its slowest improvement to date. Measures of the policy frameworks in place to enable greater affordability increased by just 1% on last year, despite growing recognition of the critical relationship
between online access and economic growth.

Island Archipelago Nations Face The Highest Costs To Connect.
One-of-a-kind analysis on the industry costs incurred in the provision of internet service shows that the cost to provide one subscriber with mobile broadband data for a year in an island archipelago nation, like the Philippines, is nearly five times the cost to do the same in a coastal nation like Nigeria.

Commenting on the report findings, A4AI Executive Director Sonia Jorge said:
“While we have seen a few bright spots of the policy leadership needed to advance affordable internet access, we are deeply concerned to see that policy progress has largely stagnated. Failure to prioritise needed broadband policy reforms has left billions of people offline, and has contributed to a significant slowing in the rate of people coming online.

Every moment that these billions are unable to participate in digital development is a lost opportunity for economic, social, and political growth. Policymakers, the private sector, and civil society must come together to take immediate action to develop and implement the policies needed to connect everyone and accelerate internet growth.”

The report finds that policies to expand infrastructure to underserved locations and populations have particularly faltered, resulting in stubbornly high costs for internet providers and consumers alike. Recommendations call on policymakers to prioritise the time and resources needed to support the development of infrastructure critical to reducing internet costs.

Dr Omobola Johnson, Honorary Chair of A4AI and former Communications Minister of Nigeria, noted: “Internet access is a critical driver of economic growth. Good, stable infrastructure is, quite literally, the backbone of internet access. As it is today, many of the policies in place conspire to make the building and upkeep of internet infrastructure more difficult and expensive than it should be. Policymakers must focus on implementing policy frameworks that
work to support the smart, coordinated development of infrastructure needed to ensure high-quality, affordable connectivity for all people — no matter whether they are in the city, a rural village, or a remote island community.”

The 2018 edition of the Affordability Report is available at a4ai.org/affordability-report,
along with all supporting data and an interactive data explorer.

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