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COVID-19 causes spike in broadband cost in Nigeria, others

By Chukwuma Muanya and Adeyemi Adepetun
18 March 2022   |   3:59 am
International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) have revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic caused a major spike in prices of broadband services

ITU claims global broadband less affordable in 2021
• How Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, DR Congo drove

Africa’s vaccine uptake by 15% in two months

International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) have revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic caused a major spike in prices of broadband services across the globe in 2021.

The bodies noted that Internet connectivity became less affordable around the world the same year.

ITU stressed that consumers in low- and middle-income economies paid five to six times more, relative to their income, to use information and communication technology (ICT) services than consumers in high-income economies did in 2021.

According to ITU-A4AI policy brief, the share of people’s incomes spent on fixed broadband and mobile Internet services increased globally last year, in parallel with upticks in demand and usage compared to 2020.

It pointed out that relative prices of fixed broadband services climbed to 3.5 per cent of gross national income (GNI) per capita globally in 2021, up from 2.9 per cent in 2020. The relative prices of mobile broadband services around the world also edged up to two per cent of GNI per capita, from 1.9 per cent a year earlier.

ITU noted that people sacrificed other goods and services to maintain reliable Internet access during the pandemic, adding that those who could, largely stayed connected, even at relatively higher prices.

ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao, said broadband services have ceased to be a mere luxury, stressing: “They are a necessity for communication, teleworking, online education, and other essential services. Still, we must urgently address the issue of affordability if we hope to achieve our goal of universal and meaningful connectivity.”

THIS came as World Health Organisation (WHO), yesterday, said vaccination campaigns in populous countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria drove Africa’s COVID-19 vaccine uptake by 15 per cent in two months.

WHO African Region, in a statement, yesterday, said around 62 million doses were administered across the continent in February, up from 54 million in January.

It said several countries embarked on mass vaccination drives to expand coverage and protect populations against adverse health impacts of the virus, between January and February.

WHO also said it is working with United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and partners to support mass vaccination drives in at least 10 priority countries including Nigeria, to reach 100 million people by the end of April 2022.

A mass vaccination campaign in Ethiopia, for instance, pushed up the number of doses administered by 136 per cent between 23 January and March 6, 2022. In Kenya, a two-week mass vaccination drive in early February saw an average of 200,000 people vaccinated daily, compared with 70, 000 per day before the campaign. Tanzania, while not yet carrying out mass vaccinations, witnessed an increase of 152 per cent in vaccine uptake between January and February.