Purpose: The two words, Internet and Nigeria, often go together when discussions revolve around cybercrime. Unfortunately, this has masked the opportunity to discuss the wholesome socio-economic impact of the Internet on Nigeria and Nigerians. However, the Nigerian Internet space cannot be discussed without looking at the entire ICT space, hence the need for this paper to look at the growth of ICTs before discussing the report of the survey conducted on the ‘Digital Lifestyle of Connected Nigerians’.
What captured the attention of the researchers is the fact that many of Nigeria’s internet users go out of their way to get – or stay – connected. The survey is a collaborative effort between the Centre for Information Technology and Development and Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, and it focuses on what Nigerians (who are currently resident in Nigeria) are doing to get (and/or stay) online, what internet services they use and other important questions. While additional surveys are being expected as at the time of writing this paper, the response of a size that exceeds our initial target of about 1,000 respondents provides an interesting perspective on what connected Nigerians do online, what they do to get (and stay) online, and what effects these have on their lifestyle.
The survey revealed that internet usage is most popular among young people aged 20 to 24. There is a 2:1 ratio when you compare the number of men and women online, and 6:1 when the comparison is between single and married people (divorced, widowed and others make up only 1%). Majority of respondents (41%) have completed either secondary school (equivalent of high school) education or a bachelors program (32%) while 36% quoted an income range of less than one million naira (about $6,600) per annum. Only 1 of every 5 responded to say that they do not own computers while 35% claim to have only one computer and 36% have one laptop computer alongside their desktop computer. More people seem to gain access from cybercafés and their workplace (55% combined) while only 17% have access at home. Other findings include number of hours spent online, eMail services, online habits, internet service choices, and impact of access – on work, health, social life, etc.
The survey, launched in May 2009, and was planned to be conducted entirely online since the target demographic would be people who have some form of access. After 2 months, the total number of online and offline respondents increased to 1,142. There was also the problem of the spread of respondents across various locations in Nigeria. For future research, we will ensure that offline surveys are included from the commencement of the research exercise, and that survey assistants from every representative region of Nigeria will be involved.
Practical and Policy implications
With an increasing population of internet users who have endured unpleasant conditions such as unfriendly customer service, power outage and plug-and-pray speeds, better access will improve user satisfaction and add value to the ICT space. Nigeria offers a huge market size for online products and the possible level of productivity that improved access brings may have Nigeria one day compete for outsourcing dollars with today’s leading hubs.
The survey reveals that issues such as health hazards and reduced efficiency may be areas that should catch the attention of individuals and corporations in relation to internet usage. Among others, the slowed policy intervention of government around convergence, which has led to duplication of duties by various organs of state could have a huge impact on the many problems that Nigerian internet users face,
While a lot has been said about the internet in Nigeria, this paper discusses the impact of digital connection on the lifestyle of Nigerians, looking at issues that have not been popular in discussions – demography of internet users, what people do to stay online, how they access the internet, and many more indices that tell the story of the digital lifestyle of connected Nigerians. As ongoing research work, the process will still enjoy greater input from respondents until the end of February 2010 to allow for wider – and more representative – input.
Keywords: “Nigeria”, “Lifestyle”, “Internet”, “Connected”.