This post was originally published by the Alliance for Affordable Internet at a4ai.org.
Today, 53% of Nigerians are still offline. That’s a staggering 96 million people shut out from the digital revolution as a result of obstacles to access that include high prices, poor service quality, inadequate infrastructure, and consumer-related issues, such as content that does not meet local needs. A4AI has been working with Nigeria since late 2013 to tackle a number of the obstacles to internet access in the country and to support an open web that can empower all.
In February, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) opened a consultation for input to learn more about the web Nigerians want, with the ultimate aim of developing an industry code of practice in support of an open internet.
The A4AI-Nigeria Coalition and the Web Foundation made a joint submission to the NCC in support of a strong open web — a neutral, free and open platform for collaboration, innovation and progress for everyone.
Our submission calls on the NCC to support and protect a web that is:
- Open and Neutral: The internet must be kept as a neutral and open space for everyone, every time. All forms of discriminatory traffic management, such as blocking or throttling should be prohibited, unless as part of necessary traffic management measures, which can be objectively measured and assessed as such by an independent authority such as the NCC.
- Accessible: Full accessibility between all endpoints connected to the internet without any form of restriction should and must continue to be upheld.
- Transparent: 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.
- Safe: Government and operators alike should work to ensure that the web is a safe space for all. Allowances should be made for end users to be able to report violations of the Industry Code to NCC directly, even if other recourse channels exist.
- Trustworthy: A clearly defined communications channel of Stakeholders with NCC needs to be established and clearly communicated. Such a channel shall ensure interactivity between NCC and stakeholders. In order to build trust, stakeholders need to assured that concerns communicated through this channel are guaranteed to be responded to and taken care of.
- Locally Relevant: Everyone has the right to create and share content without inappropriate censorship or interference. For an economically stronger Nigeria, the industry needs to support and nurture more local content creation that is relevant to Nigerians, and to support an open internet that values local content as much as content produced abroad.
- Affordable: Internet access must be affordable for all Nigerians — not just those at the top of the income pyramid. Adopting the 1 for 2 target is a good starting point, now government needs to take steps to develop and implement the policy solutions needed to drive down prices, and should also encourage innovative interventions to enable affordable connectivity for all.
You can read the full submission here.