In a significant move to bridge the digital divide and empower millions of Nigerians with fast and reliable internet access, Airtel Nigeria has embarked on an ambitious mission to democratise 5G technology. With its commitment to providing innovative solutions, Airtel aims to make high-speed internet more accessible and affordable for a broader segment of the population.
According to Femi Oshinlaja, Chief Commercial Officer of Airtel Nigeria, “5G is not meant to be out of reach, which is why Airtel is introducing the most affordable 5G routers to its customers to democratise access to 5G by all Nigerians.”
By offering affordable 5G routers, Airtel is making it easier for households and businesses to connect to the ultra-fast 5G network, unlocking new possibilities for productivity, education, and innovation. “Airtel is also partnering with Samsung to deliver the most affordable 5G mobile phone for 122,000 Naira only,” he added.
Access to affordable and reliable internet connectivity has become increasingly vital for marginalised communities to overcome barriers and participate fully in the digital age. The democratisation of 5G technology in Nigeria holds great promise in bridging the digital divide and empowering these underserved communities. The impact of a democratised 5G cuts across focus sectors such as education, healthcare, and economic opportunities – all priority for a developing nation like Nigeria.
Democratized 5G has the potential to revolutionise education in Nigeria by providing equal access to quality resources and bridging the educational divide. With accessible connectivity and affordable 5G devices, students in underserved areas will have equal opportunities to access digital educational resources, engage in online learning platforms, and participate in virtual classrooms. According to UNESCO, an estimated 46% of Nigerian children lack access to the internet, limiting their educational prospects. However, the democratisation of 5G can address this disparity and foster a more inclusive education system. By 2026, Ericsson projects that 5G networks will cover over 45% of the global population, including millions of previously underserved students in Nigeria.
Access to quality healthcare services is a critical challenge in many underserved communities. With the democratisation of 5G, telemedicine and remote consultations can become a reality for marginalised populations. Doctors can remotely diagnose, consult, and treat patients in hard-to-reach areas, reducing the need for physical travel and improving healthcare access. The potential impact is significant, as it can bridge the gap between urban and rural healthcare, improving outcomes and saving lives. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), only 35% of Nigerians have access to essential health services. Democratized 5G can help close this gap and improve healthcare equity across the nation.
Bringing affordable 5G devices and accessible connectivity to marginalised communities opens doors to economic opportunities. Individuals in remote areas can leverage the power of 5G to access online marketplaces, connect with customers and suppliers, and engage in e-commerce. This can uplift small businesses and micro-entrepreneurs, providing them with a platform to expand their reach and compete on a larger scale. The World Bank reports that approximately 52% of Nigerians live in poverty, and democratised 5G can play a pivotal role in reducing this number by creating economic opportunities in underserved areas.
By bridging the digital divide, democratised 5G can foster social development, reduce inequality, and create a more equitable society in Nigeria. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, as of 2020, the internet penetration rate in Nigeria stands at around 50%. However, the democratisation of 5G has the potential to significantly increase internet access, connecting previously underserved communities and empowering them with the tools and opportunities necessary for socioeconomic advancement.
The democratisation of 5G technology holds tremendous potential to drive economic growth and innovation in Nigeria. According to a report by the GSM Association (GSMA), the deployment of 5G networks could contribute $400 billion to Nigeria’s economy by 2030. Carl Cruz, CEO of Airtel Nigeria, states, “5G ushers in a new era of collaboration that breaks boundaries and presents a new wave of economic benefits for this generation and the next.” The faster download and upload speeds, lower latency, and more reliable connectivity offered by 5G create an environment conducive to enhanced productivity, digital entrepreneurship, and technological advancements across various sectors.
Airtel’s initiative to democratise 5G in Nigeria has a profound impact on digital inclusion and social empowerment. With increased access to fast internet, previously underserved communities can now participate more actively in the digital economy and gain access to educational resources, online healthcare services, and e-commerce platforms. Cruz emphasises, “We cannot wait to see how young people all over the country explore this new world of instant and unbroken connections to unleash a revolution in creativity.” The democratisation of 5G empowers Nigerians to unleash their potential, fostering a new generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, and creators.
5G technology serves as a catalyst for technological advancements in various domains. It enables the seamless integration of emerging technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and the Internet of Things (IoT). This convergence of technologies holds immense potential for improving public services, optimising resource utilisation, and enhancing overall quality of life for Nigerians.
–Iweka, a writer and culture enthusiast, lives in Lagos