• Data breaches on the rise
• NATCOMS wants govt to jettison CST, price increase
Internet users’ growth rate in Nigeria and other parts of Africa has fallen, moving from 20 per cent as at end of 2015 to 15 per cent by end of last year.
Internet Society, which disclosed this in its 2016 Global Internet Report, claimed the challenge was not peculiar to Africa alone. It disclosed that though the Internet passed the three billion user milestone in 2015, with just over 3.2 billion users worldwide by the end of the year.
The implication of the slowdown suggests that connecting the unconnected will take significant and concerted efforts.
According to Internet Society, while this highlights steady growth, there is work to be done to bring the Internet to everyone, particularly in certain regions, including Africa.
The Internet Society is a global cause-driven organisation governed by a diverse Board of Trustees that is dedicated to ensuring that the Internet stays open, transparent and defined by you (individuals).
The body noted that as of 2015, more than half the world’s population was not yet online, stressing that historical yearly double-digit growth levels in the number of users dipped to eight per cent in 2015. “The fact that growth rates keep fallingwith Internet penetration still below 50 per cent is cause for alarm,” it stated.
According to Internet Society, it might be expected that Europe, with a leading 76 per cent of the population online, could withstand a dip in growth rates to two per cent.
“But Africa, which just surpassed 20 per cent of the population online, has also seen growth rates fall significantly, albeit to 15 per cent,” the report noted.
Indeed, a check on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) website, showed fluctuated growth pattern on the part of Internet users in Nigeria.
While as at January 2016, the country had 95.7 million, it fell to 93.6 million in February and further fell in March, April and May to 92.2 million; 91.1 million and 92.3 million respectively.
It fluctuated between 93.3 million and 91.8 million from June to December 2016.
Commenting on the slide, the President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS), Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, in a telephone interview with The Guardian yesterday, said it was unfortunate that at a time like this, Nigeria and other country are experiencing dip in penetration.
Ogunbanjo said as nation, there is need to develop policies that would bring people online because it is going to be positive on the economy.
“A situation where government is considering increase in data price and imposition of nine per cent Communication Service Tax (CST) on users should be discouraged totally. Once again, we are saying data price should fall,” he stated.
According to Internet Society, the slowdown in Internet growth rates, particularly in regions that were already falling behind the global average, lends urgency to the group’s objective to connect the unconnected.
It stated that there is evidence that existing users are increasingly concerned about privacy and security issues worldwide, and this may start to spill over to new users, who might become more reluctant to go online.
The report noted that there is increase in data breaches, which also necessitated the issue of online trust.
“If people trust the Internet, they are more likely to use it. Trust is at the heart of the Internet economy, and more and more at the heart of economic growth. This lends urgency to our objective to promote and restore trust in the Internet.
“Users are increasingly aware of privacy and security issues in general, and specifically in relation to data breaches. The number of reported data breaches is increasing, while the full extent of breaches is unknown. The data shows the trend is for outside hackers to attack organisations to gather data for identity theft, which is a direct attack on the organisations’ users.”
According to Internet Society, these breaches have had an impact on users’ trust, stressing that privacy and security issues seem to weigh most heavily on those who are already online.
“That may be because they have some understanding of the implications of the personal information they are providing to online services, or because they already have had a direct experience with a data breach,” the report stated.