Over 48m Nigerians now on internet


By Olabisi Olaleye

THE Country Manager of Google in Nigeria, Mrs. Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor, has disclosed that the advent of internet has bridged geographical barriers in business since marketers in Kano can sell products to people in the South-West and even beyond Nigeria.

She also disclosed that as a result of online adoption in the country, over 48 million Nigerians are now on the internet.

In a chat recently, Ehimuan-Chiazor explained that the huge cost of internet bandwidth could be reduced through repeated intervention by the Ministry of Communication Technology with conversations in different states around reducing these costs that include high cost of operation, right of way and multiple taxation.

She speaks on this and many more.


The internet

Since 2005, there has been a five-fold increase in the number of Nigerians getting online. It has grown now to about 32 per cent, that is about 48 million people. We are seeing this en­gagement now and what we are asking business organisations to appreciate is that there is dan­ger for any brand that is slow at latching on to the huge potential growth offered by getting on­line for businesses. If you’re not meeting your consumers where they are, you lose connection with them and where majority is now is online. You must make use of the channels they are us­ing to search for information so that if they’re looking for any information about your com­pany online, they can always find you there. There is a risk for any brand that doesn’t latch on early enough to connect with consumers.

Let’s look at the role of in­creasing access to mobile de­vices in driving online usage. Mobile penetration in Nigeria has been growing at a phenom­enal rate and this has affected internet penetration positively. We now have around 130 mil­lion active mobile lines in the country with a sizable number of them being smartphones.

Some Nigerians are hav­ing their first internet experi­ence via mobile. We’ve seen a rise in mobile applications in Nigeria. A lot of brands have recognised the fact that there is a huge trend of people using mobile to connect to the internet and so, they are extending their offerings with mobile apps. Right now, we have mobile apps in entertainment like Af­rinolly and Wakanow. A lot of banks have mobile transaction apps for their customers, which they download to access their e-payment services. The apps store is actually filling up with applications from Nigeria. And part of our recommendations to brands when they are think­ing of digital strategy is that you need to extend your online ac­cess to mobile. So, if you have a website, for example, you need to ensure that there is a version that is optimised for mobile be­cause there is huge traffic com­ing from mobile.

Encouraging mobile applications’ development

The platforms we offer, as Google, cut across desktops and mobile. For example, when you think of digital marketing, we have tools on mobile as well that you can use to advertise through search on mobile and we continue to work with devel­opers to ensure that mobile soft­ware apps development ecosys­tem continues. On an ongoing basis, we work with different developers to build more robust applications that people can use to access the internet better. One of the things the internet has brought to businesses is to take away the geographical barriers in business. I can be a business­man working in Kano and I am selling products to people in the South-West and even beyond Nigeria. All the issues round opening a physical shop or hav­ing to plan a huge marketing budget to actually be able to sell to people in Canada are just automatically taken away from you. The internet is a platform that nationalises and globalises you as a brand.

Google’s unique proposition

If I get your question correctly, I will say that one good thing that drives everything we do at Google is to focus on the user first. It is usually about the user’s experience. It is about how you can seamlessly send messages, get feedback and get protected online. For any of our products and services such as Gmail, Google+, Search, we have to certify any visitors within the concept of user consideration.

Managing high cost of internet services

The challenges we have in terms of latching on to the inter­net are in many areas, when you think of cost of operation, right of way that a lot of operators have to put up with; you have multiple taxation, high cost of operations and in many cases, you have replication of the same end-to-end infrastructure, poor adoption of infrastructure shar­ing model and so many others. These are parts of the challeng­es of operating within the in­dustry that are driving up costs and those costs get passed on to the consumers. The essence of the broadband strategy and policy intervention is to remove these barriers. For example, the Ministry of Communication Technology is already having conversations in different states on reducing the cost of right of ways (RoW) charges and there has been success in some states like Lagos State where the RoW charges have been reduced sig­nificantly and a list of other items that are being worked on.

Collaboration with government on internet penetration

We have been working over the years with different stake­holders. Government is a very good part of that. We have had initiatives with different arms of government. For example, Google sat on the National Broadband Committee to help build the National Broadband Plan. We are also part of the National Broadband Council inaugurated to monitor the im­plementation of the broadband strategies. We have worked with different agencies of gov­ernment in the area of policy creation, to create the right en­abling environment for broad­band growth. There are a lot of recommendations we have put in the National Broadband Plan that we developed for the country and this is available for download on the official web­site of the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology. It has the issues and challenges as well as recommendations and the roadmaps to achieving about 30 per cent broadband penetration by 2018, up from the current six per cent penetra­tion in the country.

Exploring benefits of YouTube in Nigeria

YouTube is our video-sharing platform and today, video is a powerful tool in getting your message across. Nigerians are also very creative people and so, we are seeing more Nigeri­ans using YouTube creatively in entertainment, education, news and in building brand mes­sages. We are recording year-on-year growth in the amount of YouTube usage from Nigeria as well as the contents that get posted on YouTube. Indeed, a lot of brands are beginning to leverage on it as an integral part of brand building strategy, ei­ther by putting TrueView adds – these are the adds that come up when you want to view a video and you have the option to skip the add; or a number of other adds formats on YouTube that are being leveraged. In June last year, we launched a special product called the YouTube Masthead, where a brand can brand the entire YouTube.com. ng page and we have had a lot of brands taking advantage of that since launch.


First of all, the internet is an open platform and that is one beauty it exudes and we encour­age brands to leverage on it by putting their information there, and that is why we are telling them that it is better for them to put their messages online so that what customers are looking for about you online is what they find on the internet. If you are not there, they will find some­thing else that may not even be as good as what you are offer­ing as a brand. So, it is good to put your information out there so that people have the benefit of that and your message is well represented online.

With regards to privacy, across different climes where Google operates, we are very serious about being compliant with data privacy laws and we do that across all our web-based platforms for businesses and individual internet users that come on our platform.

Source : SunOnline

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