On January 30, 2023 SpaceX, a United States based company that designs, manufactures and launches the world’s most advanced rockets and spacecraft, announced the availability of Starlink (internet) in Nigeria – the first African country to receive the service.
Starlink is now available in Nigeria – the first African country to receive service! → https://t.co/slZbTmZmAt
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 30, 2023
Excited by the news, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, through his verified Twitter handle, claimed that with the deployment of Starlink in Nigeria, the West African country has achieved 100 percent broadband penetration.
The President tweeted: “We are delighted that Starlink services have been deployed in Nigeria, making us the first African country — and the only one so far — to enjoy this rollout. With this deployment of Starlink, we now have 100 percent broadband penetration in Nigeria”.
We are delighted that Starlink services have been deployed in Nigeria, making us the first African country — and the only one so far — to enjoy this rollout. With this deployment of Starlink, we now have 100 percent broadband penetration in Nigeria.
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) February 2, 2023
But is that the true position of things?
First, broadband penetration is defined as the number of subscriptions to fixed and mobile broadband services divided by the number of residents in each country. With Starlink’s launch in Nigeria, the first in Africa users can access speed of 250 Mbps, an upgrade from 66.10 Mbps, per Speedtest.
The strong point with Startlink is that it offers broadband internet in high-speed and it is Internet access that is always on; orbiting the earth at 550km means internet in rural and urban, in any weather.
Recall the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP 2020 – 2025) was designed to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria, a minimum of 25Mbps in urban areas, and 10Mbps in rural areas, with effective coverage available to at least 90% of the population by 2025 at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data (2% of median income or 1% of minimum wage).
If you put things side-by-side with Starlink hardware device costs $600 (₦276,000). Monthly subscription at $43 (₦19,780), affordability remains an issue, especially in rural areas as gross domestic product per capita of Nigeria as at 2022 is $1,533.9 U.S. dollars.
In other words, the disparity in internet access level in homes in Nigeria will remain a major concern until the economy improves.
Despite the availability of information technology and use of internet there exists a gap between those that have access, those that have no access and those that have restricted access.
Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC’s) statistics shows that as at December 2022 the country’s broadband penetration reached 47.36 percent with 90,398,960 subscriptions.
We await NCC’s clarifications on the President’s tweet too.