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Internet groups lobby Nigeria's NCC for net neutrality

Internet groups lobby Nigeria's NCC for net neutrality

The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) in Nigeria and the World Wide Web Foundation have made a joint submission to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as the regulator considers a code of practice.

The two bodies says their proposal will help alleviate obstacles, including high prices, poor service quality and inadequate infrastructure, which keep 96 million Nigerians offline.

Consumer-related issues such as content that does not meet local needs, also adds to the challenge.

The proposals include one for keeping the internet as a neutral and open space. They propose that all forms of discriminatory traffic management, such as blocking or throttling, should be prohibited.

Another call has been made for full accessibility between all endpoints connected to the internet without any form of restriction.

"Operators should be subject to strengthened transparency obligations. These pertain in particular to providing more detailed information in customers' contracts: the possible impact of traffic management techniques used by the ISPs, the concrete impact of the (traffic, speed, etc.) caps or allowances attached to the plan, information on connection speeds, etc." reads an excerpt from the submission.

Dr Omobola Johnson, Chairperson of A4AI and former Minister of Communications in Nigeria, has urged more investment in infrastructure for greater connectivity in Nigeria.

"The barriers that tend to be most cited in developing economies include funding to build the infrastructure necessary to provide connectivity, and the availability and appropriate pricing of spectrum to support wireless connectivity. I do agree with this assessment, and I think that the public and private sectors in developing economies must come together and collaborate to find win-win solutions that address both the issue of connectivity and the issue of cost."

Nigeria became the first African country to formally endorse A4AI's "1 for 2" affordability threshold in February.

Arch. Sunday Echono, Permanent Secretary for Nigeria's Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu, endorsed the affordability target during a speech he delivered on behalf of the Communications Minister during an A4AI-Nigeria Coalition.

"Consequently, A4AI and the Ministry share the common goal to make the Internet universally affordable for all who want to use it. This goal is quantified in a measure of having 1 Gigabyte of bandwidth not costing more than 2% of a person's monthly income," said Echono.

A4AI described approval of the target by the Ministry as "a significant step forward," at the time.

As at June 2016, internet penetration in Nigeria was at 52% or 28.5% of Africa's total, according to data from Internet World Stats.

Founder members of A4AI include web search giant Google, Ericsson, Cisco and Microsoft.

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