THE Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has called on the Federal Government and its relevant agencies to take urgent measures to reverse the steady decline in the number of internet users in Nigeria.
MRA’s Communications Officer Idowu Adewale, in a statement made available to The ICIR on Monday, said that efforts should be geared towards ensuring that every Nigerian was connected to the internet, rather than pushing those already connected off the line.
The MRA stressed that quality access to the internet would enable citizens to exercise and enjoy their rights as lack of it would have overarching consequences on Nigerians.
“Besides the fact that access to the internet enables people to exercise and enjoy their rights, the lack of access obviously has other far-reaching negative consequences for those who are excluded, for the quality of lives that they have, their livelihoods as well as their participation in many social, economic and political activities,” he said.
“Even before the current COVID-19 context, many public services and benefits were becoming available virtually only to those with Internet access. In the current environment where many social and economic activities are taking place online, there can be no justification for this situation which serves to deprive significant numbers of citizens access to such services and benefits.”
Adewale called on the government and its various departments and agencies with responsibilities in the internet and telecommunications sectors to make serious efforts to identify the causes of the steady decline in internet subscriptions.
He further charged the government to adopt and implement measures to address them and other barriers to connectivity for all Nigerians, including working towards reducing high cost of data and devices such as smartphones and computer equipment.
According to him, in November 2020, there were more than 154 million active internet subscriptions in Nigeria across three different communication technologies, namely the Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication, fixed wired telephone, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), but the number dropped slightly to 153 million in December 2020 and then sharply to 150 million in January 2021.
Adewale observed that since then, the figure had continued to fall monthly at an alarming rate, going to 148 million in February 2021; 144 million in March; 141 million in April; 140 million in May and standing at 139 million as of June.