Business/Career Tech

Bridging the Digital Divide: Nigeria’s Internet Revolution

Bridging the digital divide
Written by Omolola Akinyemi

Digital divide refers to the unequal access of individuals, communities, and organizations, to digital technologies and the internet. It is noteworthy that digital tools and the Internet are at the core of modern socio-economic development. They have become problem-solving tools – providing quick access to information, empowering people solve problems, and improving operations in the fast-paced modern digital age. Unfortunately, there are still a large number of Nigerians who are on the disadvantaged side of Nigeria’s digital divide. They are yet to benefit fully from Nigeria’s internet revolution and ICT infrastructure. Let us examine the facts and reasons behind Nigeria’s digital divide problem below.


Digital inclusion encompasses all efforts to reverse the digital divide in any society. It is widely recognized that digital/ICT tools (including the internet) have the potential to boost performance and productivity in all other aspects of the economy. Digital tools also have the advantage of high speed of access to information anywhere and at anytime across the Earth. This is especially useful in emergencies, or time-sensitive situations. 

Internet Coverage Across Nigeria: 2024 Report

Out of a total population of 226.5 million Nigerians (as of January 2024), 49.4 percent are females, while 50.6 percent are males. Yet again, 54.6 percent of Nigeria’s population are urban dwellers; while 45.4 percent are rural dwellers.

The Datareportal website effectively captures the level of internet penetration in Nigeria as of 2024. Thus was done against the background of Nigeria’s total population given above (from the same source). In reality, some field data may have eluded physical capture due to unavoidable factors. Thus, giving room to possibly larger numbers, the report further shows that:

  1. internet penetration stood at 45.5 percent, representing 103.0 million internet users in Nigeria at the beginning of 2024. This indicates that 123.4 million people in Nigeria had no internet access at the start of 2024. That is, about 54.5 percent of the population remained offline at the start of the year.
  2. There are 36.75 million social media users in Nigeria as of January 2024 – representing 16.2 percent of the total population.
  3. A total of 205.4 million active cellular mobile connections were were recorded in Nigeria at the start of 2024 – representing 90.7 percent of the total population.

The report further indicated an increase from year to year, in the number of internet and mobile phone subscriptions respectively. Nevertheless, a whooping 54.5 percent of the population (more than half) were not connected to the Internet at the beginning of 2024. This clearly shows that the digital divide in Nigeria is still a big problem. It presents certain challenges. 

Firstly, citizens lacking digital inclusion are largely excluded from participating in decision-making and socio-economic development in Nigeria. They cannot easily participate in social discourses, nor earn and prosper well in the modern digital economy. Thus situation is further worsened amongst youths – as Nigerian youths are amongst the largest in population worldwide. Youths affected by the digital divide (very likely because they are not educated) easily become restive, and turn to crime. 

Reasons for the Digital Divide in Nigeria

There area number of factors responsible for the significant gap on Nigeria’s digital divide. They include the following. 

  • Large numbers of uneducated people in Nigeria. Education creates an inclusive society where people can actively engage in economic activities, discourses, and nation-building. They also acquire useful digital skills to thrive in the modern economy. Without this in place, lack of information, skills, and resources will overwhelm the disadvantaged people. Thus, the situation will keep them below the poverty level. 
  • Costly and limited access to ICT infrastructure. Urban dwellers have more access to advanced ICT tools and infrastructure than those living in rural areas. Yet again, the cost of obtaining or setting up modern digital tools (such as mobile phones, computers and others) can be quite high. This limits access to reliable internet connectivity.
  • Geographical barriers. People living in remote or rugged areas with poor internet coverage will be seriously disadvantaged.
  • Earning power. Research has shown that makes are more physically and financially capable to overcome the digital divide than females. Yet again, urban dwellers are also more capable (financially and in other ways) to overcome the digital divide than rural dwellers. 

How to Bridge the Digital Divide in Nigeria

There have been a number of initiatives aimed at solving the problem of digital divide in Nigeria. In any case, these efforts need to be sustained. They include the following.

Improved E-learning Facilities

E-learning involves the application of ICT tools (including the internet) to facilitate learning and/or education. There is need to apply more e-learning tools in the nation’s various public and private institutions of learning (from primary to tertiary), Thus, more people will be equipped with modern digital skills that will improve their financial status. Learners are also better able to learn and at their own pace, with access to a vast number of information and learning resources. 

Public-Private Partnerships

It is very critical for the government to collaborate with NGOs, private ICT corporations, and key learning institutions to provide citizens with affordable ICT tools and training programmes. Such cooperating organizations should also benefit from government incentives that will encourage them to do so – such as tax waivers. Such programs involves go top ICT giants such as Microsoft, Google, Andela, CCHub, Intel, Cisco, and Starbridge Africa are already ongoing. 

A Call for More E-Libraries

A noble venture would be to upgrade Nigeria’s public libraries and institutional libraries to e-libraries (and create new ones). Contents of books are now being uploaded unto computerized databases, for easy access on the internet. ICT literacy courses and digital skills can also be taught at these libraries. This can be done at the behest of the state (or federal) government, and private ICT providers, with subsidized or cheap fees.

It would require hiring capable staff with the requisite ICT skills; steady power supply, and procuring the right ICT infrastructure. But it is highly attainable and desirable. Thus, more people will be better able to locate and use information using digital tools available in e-libraries. It will also stimulate better learning and retention capacity, above and beyond the classroom environment.

Improving Affordability and Accessibility 

One key solution to the digital divide in Nigeria is making digital tools (such as computers, smartphones, ICY infrastructure, and internet data) more affordable to people. It is far easier to shove this with government intervention. For instance, establishing government policies that encourage ICT equipment and internet service providers to reduce the cost of their products will ease the problem. That includes tax waivers, subsidies, and other incentives. 

Alongside this, offering a better salary structure to employees will empower them to easily procure and own these digital tools. This is important both in private organizations and government establishments. It is even more critically needed by workers in the rural areas

Encouraging More Local Content and Participation

It will be expedient to encourage more local tech solution providers – tech startups and entrepreneurs, to showcase their expertise and get more patronage. It is also important to provide online content written in local languages, and addressing the peculiar needs of Nigerians. Apart from encouraging more participation at the local level, it will contribute to economic growth in a significant way.




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About the author

Omolola Akinyemi

A Computer Science graduate of UNILAG, I hail from Ekiti state of Nigeria. An astute teacher, learner & admin assistant of many years experience. I love technology, innovation, and Nature. A problem solving mentality is important to me. The future is only seconds away, and I believe I can define the future now. You can also.

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