Nigeria joins Alliance for Affordable Internet

Nigeria has joined the Alliance for Affordable Internet, an organisation that aims to make the Internet more affordable in developing countries where the cost of access remains a barrier for majority of the populace.

The alliance, which was inaugurated in Nigeria at the ongoing 2013 Annual Conference of Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, says the aim of the association is to bring down the cost of Internet access so that two-thirds of the world’s population can also enjoy broadband Internet.

The Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, represents Nigeria in the alliance, which has global technology companies such as Cisco, Microsoft, Google, Alcatel and Intel as members.

Countries that have signed up for membership of the alliance include the United Kingdom, the United States, Sweden and Kenya.

The Global Technology Policy Leader at Cisco, Dr. Robert Pepper, who spoke to journalists after the inauguration of the alliance, lamented that broadband Internet could take as much as 30 per cent of a household’s income in some African countries.

Pepper said the average cost of broadband Internet in most advanced countries was 1.7 per cent, adding that the alliance aimed to bring down the average cost of access to five per cent of households’ monthly income.

Quoting the International Telecommunications Union, Pepper said achieving this target could make universal access a reality and connect two-thirds of the world that was currently without Internet access.

He said, “One of the most important steps the government and business leaders in Africa can take to encourage social and economic transformation is to focus on delivering universal broadband access.”

On Cisco’s involvement in the project, Pepper said the company, through its long-term commitment and investment in Africa, had been helping governments, businesses and citizens to build an economically sustainable future through intelligent application of information technology.

In a keynote presentation, Johnson said technology had permeated all aspects of life and without access, it would become difficult to be part of the modern society.

She said, “If we extrapolate based on current trends in the adoption and assimilation of technology, and in particular, Information and Communication Technologies, our conclusion would be that our future will be technology-enabled.

“In the future, people who do not have access to ICTs, and who do not have the capabilities to utilise them, will have significantly limited experiences and lifestyles to people with access and the capacities to make use of technology.”

The minister said the Federal Government was making an effort to connect all Nigerians to the information superhighway, adding that by addressing infrastructure deficit, the government aimed to bring the much needed connectivity to Nigerians in an affordable manner.

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